Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 13 prompt

The common belief is that adults still don't or shouldn't read that stuff. How can we as librarians, work to ensure that we are able to serve adults who enjoy YA literature or graphic novels? Or should we?

There is no doubt that as librarians and book lovers we should encourage adults to read YA and graphic novels in they want to.  There are two important steps to help serve adults in the YA genre and graphic novel format.  The first is to not be judgmental.  Adults can read any genre they chose.  It is based on their own taste, not the age of the reader.    

The young adult genre centers on stories about young adults characters.  It does have plenty of books with similar fantasy and romance themes like the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer to real life issues from books like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares.  The YA genre, like other book genres, has many sub-genres, such as historical fiction, humor, horror, science fiction, mystery, etc.  Sometimes YA stories have many sub-genres within the same story.

Graphic Novels and there readers can be stereotyped easily.  This is wrong.  The graphic novel format is a form of a written story told through words and images or a story told just through images.  Some graphic novels like the ones written and illustrated by Lynd Ward from block prints tell entire stories without a single written word.  His books, God's Man and Madman's Drum tell complex stories of love, hate, religion, life, death, government, industry, and society.  Other graphic novels like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns are very wordy.  Since, graphic novels are a format and not a genre it can include stories about ALL genres and sub-genres. What makes someone want to read a graphic novel story is the same as a novel; it involves the six appeals of pacing, story line, characterization, frame/setting, tone/mood, and style language.  However, with graphic novels is another very important appeal: art.  The art style and story can separately make or break a graphic novel.  For full enjoyment the story has to have the appeals the patron wants to read and the art style that is pleasing to them.

The second important step with helping serve adults in the YA and graphic novel format is to do your research.  If YA, graphic novels, or any other genre or format is not part of your normal reading choices then as a librarian you will need to take time to learn about these different areas.  There are many ways to learn about different areas outside of your own genres.  You can read scholarly articles, read book reviews, talk with fellow librarians and books lovers about different types of books and possibly the most important way is to give other genres another chance.  With so many sub-genres available you may find a niche that you did not know you like.      


  1. I think it is important that you pointed out that both young adult and graphic novels encompass a wide variety of genres. This got me thinking about the displays that libraries typically do. One way to encourage adults to read young adult and graphic novels could be to include them in displays based upon genre. This can help show that there is depth and variety to these two areas of the library that are worth looking into. It might also make some adults more comfortable to pick a book up from a display rather than look for it in the young adult or graphic novel sections.

  2. I think Paige is on the right track. And Robert, your descriptions of God's Man and Madman's Drum got me thinking about adult graphic novels. There are loads of them that are not YA, but are geared more for mature readers/thinkers with very sophisticated art. I wonder if my library should consider establishing an adult graphic novel section.... Of course, a major obstacle to that would be that our adult services librarian is exactly the kind of judgmental person we're talking about in this discussion. She would not embrace this idea at all, and doesn't consider graphic novels "worthy". I think there's a very big difference between people like me who don't personally want to read graphic novels but recognize their value and validity as a genre, and people who believe that they aren't "real books" and that they're only for illiterate people. Here's a question for you all: would photograph coffee table type books be considered graphic novels? I guess they're not really a novel since they don't tell a story, but they are graphics based, so... Maybe we should call them all Adult Picture Books, lol!

  3. Deirdre,

    They actually have graphic novels that instead of drawings have photographs with word bubbles. These are called photonovels or photo comics. I have read a few of them, such as Star Trek and a couple of horror ones.

    I am not a fan of them, because the ones I have read the photography of the people look very still and staged. Then add in terrible computer images with flat text and it just does not look right. The three elements do not work well together. However, I have not read one in several years, so there is a good possibility that the technology of photography, computer art, and text has improved and become more cohesive. So, I am willing to give them a try again.


  4. Hi Robert,

    You bring up a great point about stereotypes as they relate to certain genres as they relate to a patron or a patron’s age. I was discussing this very topic with a librarian during my internship and we agreed that besides the adult who is interested in YA Lit and/or graphic novels, it also seems there is an unfair negative connotation or stigma often attached to readers of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres. I feel so much of it comes down to the realization that good literature is good literature. Or, better yet, a patron’s/reader’s taste is their own to explore and read! All too often we pigeon-hole readers and authors alike. It’s interesting to consider there are people that might be so arrogant and ignorant about who should or shouldn’t be reading what, that they would miss out on classics and great stories as Watchmen, The Walking Dead, The Sun is Also a Star, Looking for Alaska, and so much more! I also agree there is so much importance to learning as much as we can about each individual genre, sub-genre, etc.… in order to serve each and every patrons, regardless of their tastes, to the best of our abilities.

    I also learned something from your post regarding Photonovels! I'll have to check them out as I've never experienced one. Have you checked out the graphic novel, Here? That's really just Here, without the question mark. A unique and powerful story with very limited use of language.

  5. Hi Jon,

    I have heard of "Here" by Richard McGuire before, but have not had the pleasure of reading it yet. It looks like a unique read.

    May 21-23 is C2E2 at McCormick Place in Chicago. It is a three day comic book, entertainment, pop-culture nerd-fest. I have gone every year since it started in 2010. Some of the highlights is getting my comic books signed by artist and writers. However, I have attended several panel discussions about comics books, the business, education, and libraries that have helped me in my job.

    The other highlight about comic cons is getting to see and buy comic books from small independent publishers, artist, and writers. Some of my all time favorite graphic novels have come self-publishers who try different and unique art styles and is not afraid to think outside the box when writing stories. This books are usually hard to find outside of comic cons, because they are printed in very low numbers.

  6. Very thoughtful, insightful prompt response. I couldn't agree more! Also, great dialogue in the comments! Full points!