20 March 2015

Comic Spot Interview

For nostalgia purposes I went back and listened to an interview I did at the end of 2010 with the Comic Spot hosted by John Retalick. I was bracing myself to cringe pretty hard at the sound of my voice, but surprisingly it only stung a little; it only caused at least 1-2 days of hand wringing anxiety about if I sound arrogant in my enthusiasm for things. I thought it would be neat to provide some background information for that particular interview, considering how I would change a few of my answers if asked now.

Comic Spot Interview December 2010


I had just started my job 2 weeks previously and I was so new to the realities of working in a public library. I no longer work for the same library as I have now moved to Canada. I still work in a job related to public libraries but not actually in them.

A few things I wanted to mention about the interview:
  • I didn't mention the name of the library I was working at because I had just started and wasn't sure what their policy was on such things. Looking back it sounded dark and suspicious why I didn't mention my employer, it really wasn't.
  • I was new to libraries and I think I sounded arrogant initially talking about libraries not knowing what comics to order, collection development is tough and it's always a hit and miss type of thing.
  • Libraries do encourage the purchase and reading of Australian content. Again I was just new to the job and didn't fully understand or know how our collection development team worked. There is also a spine label to show if a book is Australia too
  • In my time working at the library I only ever had one complaint about the adult graphic novel section. A mother was grabbing some books for her teenage son and she was shocked to see one that depicted some sort of male on male sex act. The book in question was possibly 'My brain is hanging upside down' or 'Stuck rubber baby' either way I dismissed the complaint as being homophobic and baseless.
I went on to develop what I thought was a really good collection of 'Graphic Novels' for the branch I worked at. Including dividing the comics in the branch into a junior, young adult and adult section. All including face out displays. As usually with these kinds of efforts it is hard to measure how much it was appreciated by library patrons overall. I know the junior section got a lot of attention. The Adult section was definitely underused and it was always a struggle to promote such a niche collection. It made me realize that alternative adult comics are such an extremely niche market compared to other media/genres/styles.

One of the main issues with comics in libraries, is giving them their own sections and then convincing the branch staff to maintain them. It might not be obvious, but any segmentation of the collection puts further strain on the circulation staff to maintain.
It can be fairly easy to do in one branch but once you apply it to another branches it may require changes in how the collection is cataloged in the system etc.

My advice to libraries wanting to improve their Graphic Novel section:
  • Find a local enthusiast (or staff member) to help you choose books to purchase and inform the displaying of the books.
  • Keep in mind that comics are a medium not a genre, someone might know everything there is to know about Manga titles but nothing about alternative American titles. Think of comics like DVDs in terms of the range of content and quality.
  • Don't place comics in with your regular fiction or non-fiction, they will get lost and people that actually read comics won't be able to easily find them.
  • As a comic reader and library user I don't mind if the comic collection is stored at one particular branch, in fact it makes it much easier to find something I want to read. Non-mainstream comics can be less popular, so it makes sense to focus on those types of items in one or two branches only, if need be.
  • A comics collection will need special promotion, a lot of regular library patrons don't understand the medium all too well.

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