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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Listen to a podcast featuring the editor now!

The circ stats say it all: graphic novels’ popularity among library users keeps growing, with more being published (and acquired by libraries) each year. The unique challenges of developing and managing a graphics novels collection have led the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) to craft this guide, presented under the expert supervision of editor Ballestro, who has worked with comics for more than 35 years. Examining the ever-changing ways that graphic novels are created, packaged, marketed, and released, this resource gathers a range of voices from the field to explore such topics as

  • a cultural history of comics and graphic novels from their World War II origins to today, providing a solid grounding for newbies and fresh insights for all;
  • catching up on the Big Two’s reboots: Marvel’s 10 and DC’s 4;
  • five questions to ask when evaluating nonfiction graphic novels and 30 picks for a core collection;
  • key publishers and cartoonists to consider when adding international titles;
  • developing a collection that supports curriculum and faculty outreach to ensure wide usage, with catalogers’ tips for organizing your collection and improving discovery;
  • real-world examples of how libraries treat graphic novels, such as an in-depth profile of the development of the Penn Libraries' manga collection;
  • how to integrate the emerging field of graphic medicine into the collection; and
  • specialized resources like The Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists databases, the open access scholarly journal Comic Grid, and the No Flying, No Tights website.

Packed with expert guidance and useful information, this guide will assist technical services staff, catalogers, and acquisition and collection management librarians.

Introduction: The Light, by John Ballestro

Chapter One: Between the Panels: A Cultural History of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, by Joshua Everett
Chapter Two: Graphic Novel Companies, Reboots, and Numbering, by John Ballestro
Chapter Three: Creating and Developing a Graphic Literature Collection in an Academic Library, by Andrea Kingston
Chapter Four: Nonfiction Graphic Novels, by Carli Spina
Chapter Five: Fiction Graphic Novels, by Kayla Kuni
Chapter Six: International Comic Books and Graphic Novels, by Lucia Cedeira Serantes, Emily Drew, and Amie Wright
Chapter Seven: Building a Japanese Manga Collection for Nontraditional Patrons in an Academic Library, by Michael P. Williams and Molly Des Jardin
Chapter Eight: Graphic Medicine in Your Library: Ideas and Strategies for Collecting Comics about Health Care, by Alice Jaggers, Matthew Noe, and Ariel Pomputius
Chapter Nine: The Nuts and Bolts of Comics Cataloging, by Allison Bailund, Hallie Clawson, and Staci Crouch
Chapter Ten: Teaching and Programming with Graphic Novels in Academic Libraries, by Jacob Gordon and Sara C. Kern

About the Contributors

John Ballestro

John Ballestro is the director of collection development and acquisitions services and the subject selector for graphic novels at Texas A&M University’s Sterling C. Evans Library. He is an avid comic book reader, likes Kirk over Picard, and his house words could be “Winter is Coming” but is more likely to be "Wednesday is new comics day!”


The former Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) are now Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a new division of ALA. Its mission is to cultivate and amplify the collective expertise of library workers in core functions through community building, advocacy, and learning.

"Though comics are studied in academia, many do not link academic libraries and comics. This volume focuses on the world of comics and their incorporation into academic libraries and their community. Ballestro worked in a comics shop and continues to collect comics as an academic librarian ... The book’s writing is clear, and the sources alone make this volume useful to academic librarians."
— Booklist

"The chapters thoroughly analyze the cultural landscape of comics and graphic novels from their origins to today, and the authors give useful advice and examples on how libraries can treat this ever-changing genre. These qualities make this a worthwhile resource for any librarian wishing to expand their practical knowledge of graphic novels."
— Technicalities