See Also: the UBC iSchool Student Journal
Vol. 2, No. 1, (Spring 2016)
Revising the Adult Graphic Novel Collection in VPL Central Branch
Keywords: librarians, libraries, comics, graphic novels
Meeting Date: 2015/02/30
SUBJECT: Revising the Adult Graphic Novel collection in Central Branch
report analyzes the Adult Graphic Novel collection in the Vancouver
Public Library Central Branch, highlights areas for improvement, and
suggests strategies and changes that can be used to enhance it.
Implementing these changes would provide a better physical space for
the material (prolonging the lives of the physical books), simplify and
improve upon current genre divisions, upgrade and enhance the metadata
for the books in our collection, and redesign spine labels and other
stickers. Taken as a whole, these changes will allow patrons to more
easily browse the collection and allow both patrons and librarians to
find specific material more quickly, both physically on the shelves and
digitally in our catalogue.
purpose of this report it to highlight areas for improvement within the
Central Branch’s Adult Graphic Novel collection and suggest strategies,
techniques, and ideas for developing this collection.
1. Purchase new shelving for the collection.
2. Consolidate graphic novels from the various genres into “fiction” and “non-fiction.”
3. Incorporate graphic novels that are currently, for historical or accidental reasons, currently housed within the Dewey run.
4. Create metadata standards that work better for graphic novels.
5. Recatalogue material so that patrons will find graphic novels in places that make sense.
6. Redesign spine labels so that they provide information, such as volume numbers, relevant to patrons.
These recommendations are related to policies of improving patron access to library collections.
recommendations within this report focus on VPL’s Foundational Element
of “diverse and accessible collections and programs.” By implementing
these recommendations, the library will greatly improve access to the
Adult Graphic Novel collection, both physically in how the books are
placed on the shelves, and digitally in how they can be found in our
catalogue. This will mean that patrons will find what they want more
easily, circulation numbers may increase, and librarians will be able
to spend less time finding specific titles.
BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION
novels are still a relatively new collection for many libraries, and
this is evident in the ways which they are purchased, catalogued, and
presented. Many librarians are unfamiliar with the medium as a whole
and may struggle with choosing items to order, giving recommendations
to patrons, cataloguing, and other tasks related to graphic novels.
physical size of graphic novels are different enough from traditionally
published books to cause problems. While we split off our mass market
paperbacks from our hardcover and larger paperback books, in our adult
graphic novel collections we shelve all sizes on the same shelves. This
means that books ranging from as small as 10cm tall up to over 30cm
talls end up sharing the same shelf space. The shelving units currently
in place are split into four shelves. While the top three are the same
size, the bottom shelf is much shorter, and the vast majority of books
placed on these shelves are placed spine up with the spine covered by
the above shelf. This reduces the visibility of the books, makes them
less accessible to users with mobility issues (as patrons have to
physically remove each book them from the bottom shelf in order to see
the title) and can cause increased physical wear and tear.
shelving for this collection is essential to allow patrons to actually
be able to browse what is on the shelf, allow patrons and librarians to
more easily find material, and prevent unnecessary damage to material.
some point the decision was made to physically split up the Adult
Graphic Novel collection in Central Branch into a number of different
genres. These include general fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, science
fiction, mystery, and short stories. However, these have been
inconsistently applied and lead to problems for patrons trying to find
series that can be found in different graphic novel sections in the
Miss Don’t Touch Me Vol. 1 can be found in the general fiction
Miss Don’t Touch Me Vol. 2 can be found in the mystery section
volumes of the Hellboy series by Mike Mignola can be found under H (for
Hellboy) and M (for Mignola), and within the general fiction, short
story, and young adult collections.
The proposed solution is to
eliminate all subsections except fiction and non-fiction. This will
simplify where material should be placed on the shelf.
the relatively recent development of graphic novel collections within
VPL there are graphic novels which have, either due to age (e.g. before
we had a dedicated graphic novel section) or error, not been placed
within a graphic novel collection. These books can be found within the
Dewey run and are seen by far fewer patrons than those within the
general Adult Graphic Novel collection; as a result, they circulate
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton is found in Adult Non-fiction (under 741.59)
title, and other graphic novels, will benefit from being housed in the
Adult Graphic Novel section as, due to increased visibility, they will
Library cataloguing techniques were not
developed to work for the ongoing serialized nature of many graphic
novels, nor for the many different authors that a work may feature.
Books are frequently catalogued as isolated items without regards to
other related works, which can lead to different books in the same
series being found in completely different sections. Creating metadata
standards will allow us consistently catalogue books within the same
series, know which authors we should credit, and provide other
information that patrons will be looking for. This problem is endemic
to all of our graphic novel collections and is not just limited to the
Adult Graphic Novel collection.
Avengers vs. X-men is catalogued as A vs. X and lists only one creator
(Jason Aaron), when this book collects comics written by Jason Aaron,
Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction,
and features art by John Romita, Jr., Olivier Coipel, and Adam Kubert
The first volume of comics based on the Firefly TV show is catalogued as:
Serenity , Those Left Behind
The third volume is catalogued as:
Serenity, Firefly Class 03-K64 , The Shepherd's Tale
Various books feature volume numbers in the following forms (and more):
• Volume 1
• [Volume 1]
• Vol. 1
• [Vol. 1]
• V. 1
• [V. 1]
• Volume One
• [Volume One]
• Vol. One
These are inconsistently applied across series:
The Massive Vol. 1, Black Pacific
The Massive , Subcontinental
MASSIVE VOLUME 3
The Massive 4, Sahara
In addition, there are other terms such as “Book” used instead of “Volume.”
mistakes indicate a lack of knowledge about the medium as a whole and
about the specific needs of patrons. A patron looking for works by Ed
Brubaker or Adam Kubert would not be able to find a specific work that
they contributed to. Incorrectly labeling volumes, like the third
volume of Serenity, can lead to confusion.
spine labels are generally placed in the same place on all of our
material, including graphic novels. This location, at the bottom of the
spine, generally doesn’t cover up relevant material for books, but many
graphic novel series feature volume numbers in that location. As series
can go on for dozens of volumes and may feature no additional or easily
accessible information concerning volume number, it makes sense to
place this information on the spine label. This way, we can keep a
consistent look to our books and not have spine labels placed on
different places on different books.
costs are fairly limited, but important. The shelves will need to be
large enough to fit all of the material but also fit within the design
of the Central Branch as a whole. Future spine label stickers should
already be included in budgets, and exactly how many will be needed as
replacements for the current collection is unknown.
costs include time spent researching requirements of the collection,
ordering new material and shelving, creating metadata standards,
physically moving and reorganizing collections, and recataloguing and
labeling material. This does not need to be done by a dedicated
individual, and it can be done in addition to other duties by one or
Spine Labels $1000
• Doing this first will allow easier access to the collection as a whole, and allow other steps to go more smoothly.
• Measure graphic novels and decide upon needed shelf height.
• Find shelving that fits within the look of the Central Branch’s collection as a whole.
• Order and install shelving.
Consolidate graphic novels
Physically moving the books can be done in a relatively short amount of
time. The fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and short story
collections are not very large.
• Newly returned material can be reshelved easily.
Create spine label standards, purchase new spine labels
• Decide how volumes numbers will be placed on spine labels.
• Ensure that future spine labels will fit this format.
• Examine material to see which volumes need to be relabled.
• Relabel material.
• Books currently on the shelves should be relabled first.
• Newly returned material should be checked to see if they need to be relabled.
Incorporate graphic novels from the Dewey run
• Physically moving the books will not take much time.
• Books will be recatalogued.
• Newly returned material should be checked to see if they need to be relabeled.
• Set up automated system to remove books from 741.59 (and related sections) as they are returned.
• Follow up on the physical section in six months to catch any stragglers.
Create metadata and cataloguing standards
• Consult with other librarians and libraries.
• Answer the following questions (among others):
• Will series be catalogued under series or author?
• Who can be the primary access point for material? (Can the artist be the key author of a work?)
• Who is the primary access point for books featuring multiple writers and artists?
• What is the standard format for titles with volume numbers?
• Ensure that new purchases meet these standards.
• This will take the most amount of time.
• Possibly easiest to work on it in chunks (by shelf, series, or author, as material is returned, etc.)
Not all material will need to be recatalogued, but all material should
be checked to ensure it fulfills new metadata standards.
• Doing a
full inventory will also allow us to remove missing books from our
catalogue. Many books from the graphic novel section go missing, and
these phantom listings cause frustration for our patrons.
to staff’s lack of familiarity with the medium, the Adult Graphic Novel
collection has reached a state that represents the library in a poor
light. If we want patrons to come to us when they are looking for
graphic novels, or be a place where we can introduce patrons to graphic
novels, we need to improve both the physical and digital spaces related
to graphic novels in our collection.
New shelving and spine
labels will improve the general physical appearance of this collection,
make it more visually appealing, and make it easier for patrons and
librarians to find what they are looking for. Creating metadata
standards will allow employees unfamiliar with the medium to properly
catalogue the items in this collection, allowing them to be found by
patrons or librarians looking for them. Without following the
recommendations in this report we risk losing patrons who think we do
not have what they are looking for because they cannot find it either
online or in our catalogue. We will be failing to provide accurate and
relevant information, and thus failing our purpose as a library. We
hope that the readers of this report agree and will follow the outlined
Matthew Murray is a 2015 graduate of the MLIS program at UBC.
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