Archive for the ‘libraries’ Category
I’m reading Ubby’s Underdogs: The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon by Brenton E. McKenna, Australia’s first Indigenous graphic novel. I’m looking forward to blogging about it when I finish. Magabala Books is launching this exciting tale of adventure and mystery on Friday week, 20 May in Broome. If you’re in the area join the fun at Sun Pictures – click on Ubby’s Invite to see the details.
And now for why you can call me Doc…
‘All of his [Poe’s] books were burned in the Great Fire. That’s thirty years ago – 2006.’
‘Ah’ said Mr Bigelow wisely, ‘One of those!’
‘Yes, one of those, Bigelow. He and Lovecraft and Hawthorn and Ambrose Bierce and all the tales of terror and fantasy and horror and, for that matter, tales of the future were burned. Heartlessly. They passed a law. Oh, it started very small. In 1999 it was a grain of sand. It began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves’
– Ray Bradbury (1950) The Martian Chronicles
Luckily for us, Ray Bradbury’s future didn’t eventuate. Now that we’re inundated with comics and graphic novels, I wrote a thesis on them (and it swallowed way too many years of my life). Cos my baby Graphic novels: Enticing teenagers into the library is out in the world, googleable for all, you can read it. I don’t recommend you read it all, just dip into the bits that take your fancy. There is a table of contents, but sadly no index.
This is a nice short summary:
This thesis investigated the information habits of teenagers, including their recreational reading and internet use, and means of encouraging library use among teenagers, particularly through graphic novel collections in public and school libraries in Australia. A mixed methods approach was used which included focus groups with teenagers, a survey of public libraries, and interviews with public and teacher librarians.
To continue on the theme of reading books, the March issue of Incite, the news magazine of ALIA, the professional association for librarians and other information professionals, had the theme “The Future of Reading.”
I wrote an article about what the teenagers I interviewed for my research thought about reading, seeing as they are our future. While I had some difficulty sticking to the word limit of 800, there’s a space at the end of the published article (for an ad they didn’t have a taker for) and I could have filled that space with more words, like quotes from the kids. My proof reader Gaby Haddow suggested I delete one quote to get closer to the word count but I could have put multitudes more in. eg.
That book was hell good.
Despite my friend reading my article and telling me he’d just discovered teenagers didn’t read, one kid did say the above, I think about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (David Fickling Books, 2006). I agree with said kid’s opinion on that book. It was an assigned text for their Year 10 English class. There weren’t fun books like that when I was at school, but it wasn’t published back then. A number of the other assigned texts teenagers discussed were studied in my English classes 20 years ago. I understand some of them are classics, but The Cay by Theodore Taylor (Doubleday, 1969) is not a classic. Well, if it is, it’s one of the boring ones.
My parents like to read what I’ve published, but I think they get a bit bored sometimes. My mum said this one was a lot easier to read because it didn’t have annoying references getting in the way (and I’m sure the length helped, shorter always being better).
All the authors in this issue had to say what they were reading. I was reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and despite my article saying I was reading Catching the Fire, I know what the title is. Katniss started a fire, she didn’t catch one, and I highly recommend the story of her fire, but you should read bk1 first. I’m looking forward to bk3 Mockingjay, released the day before my b.day.
Snowball, Clare (2010) Teenagers: Our future readers Incite, 31(3), p.13.
I have a list of graphic novels written or illustrated by Australians. It’s not extensive and I often discover titles I’ve missed, but finding Australian graphic novels and comics may become easier. Debbie Cox contacted me to tell about two projects of the National Library of Australia which aim to ensure the library collects published work of Australian comics creators. Collecting Australian Fringe Publishing at the National Library of Australia and The Comics Claiming Project are about the collection and treatment of comics, graphic novels, manga and zines at the NLA. The projects focus on:
- What’s being published by Australian creators and publishers, whether published in Australia or not
- Whether the NLA is adding them to the collection
- If not, how the intake of these materials could be improved
How is this relevant to Australian comics and graphic novels creators?
The NLA needs help ensuring Australian comics, graphic novels, manga and zines are represented in the national collection. For creators this will mean a copy of published work is preserved in a controlled environment and made accessible to library patrons now and in the future. Information about these works will also be made available as a catalogue record to anyone anywhere with access to the internet.
I’m writing about the interviews I conducted with six librarians last year. (Names of people and libraries have been changed to ensure confidentiality.) One of the first topics we discussed was why their library had a graphic novel collection. The most common reason was because their borrowers wanted to read them, with interest gleaned through requests for purchase and circulation statistics once acquired. Ms Marchamley cited the popularity of graphic novels among her students as the reason for Banksia Park High School Library’s collection, “I don’t think you can deny that they’re not getting used, especially all the new ones.” Her colleague Ms Tyler continued, “I mean nothing really sits on the shelf.” Ms Turner said of Tuart Grove High School Library’s graphic novels, “There’s a little hard core of students who prefer that format, so they’re ticking over steadily.”
As a voracious reader of graphic novels, Mr Carlton had slightly different reasons for a library collecting graphic novels. He was passionate about the format and read them in his spare time. He referred to their popularity, but also considered graphic novels were “a part of literature.”
I think you can’t not have graphic novels in your collection, because not everyone wants [conventional books]. I mean if you’re going to have you know, audio cassettes,…you’re going to have videos, books, DVDs…It’s just another format. And you’ve got the internet in there, so you’ve got graphic novels whether you want it or not through the internet [ie. web comics].
Justine Larbalestier blogged about borrowing books from libraries and how authors benefit from this.
On the big scale, borrowing books is good because that’s what keeps libraries alive: the more people who borrow books from libraries the more likely they are to be funded. And the more libraries there are the more people who are reading.
Scott Westerfeld had blogged about Love is Hell , which includes stories by him, Justine and others (eg. Gabrielle Zevin a remarkable writer, who loves her pup almost as much as i love mine). One of Scott’s loyal Westerfeldians lamented she would have to wait months before she could find it at a used book store. Justine suggested:
Maybe you could get your local library to order it in?
This idea is surprising to many teenagers, but every teen librarian grapples with how to entice teenagers into their library. I’ve written a literature review on the topic . (Amira-la does know how rocking libraries are and like me is waiting (im)patiently for Love is Hell to arrive on a library shelf, altho our respective libraries are half a world from each other.)
Update: I made a mistake in this post and corrected it 11 June 2009.
I interviewed Librarian Ms Davilak at Hakea Park Public Library for my PhD research. (Names of people and libraries have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)
Hakea Park’s graphic novel collection was located in the YA area. When complaints were received about titles in this collection (at that time only from staff members before the title was put on the shelf), the title was investigated and if found to be unsuitable for teenagers, moved to the general (adult) collection and interfiled with ordinary fiction. One such title was manga of the genre Boys’ Love, which has themes of romance and love between two men . This genre is aimed at different age groups, and includes Yaoi, erotic titles aimed at adults . The title at Hakea Park had no explicit material – the two male characters only went as far as kissing. It was deemed to be unsuitable for the YA collection and moved to adult fiction. Young People’s Librarian Ms Davilak felt this outcome was acceptable, because the title had not been removed from the library. It was investigated by four librarians at Hakea Park and deemed suitable for teenagers. Ms Davilak explained, “We all talked about it. We decided that we would leave it where it was.” A fortunate outcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) teenagers and those questioning their sexuality who would benefit from finding such material in their YA collection. While Yaoi and Boys’ Love is generally created by and for women and McLelland believes,
Gay men tend not to identify with the beautiful youths in women’s manga and feel that these figures are figments of women’s imaginations. 
In two and a half weeks ALIA and SLA are holding a Seminar Series for Information Professionals, Reality 2.0, with sessions in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. Stephen Abram, the current President of SLA, is the keynote speaker at all three sessions, with various local speakers at each session.
What are some of the strategies information professionals need in the changing information world? Stephen will talk about the real needs of real people living the Web 2.0 experience and information and knowledge economy. How can we use Web 2.0 tools to terra-form the living, breathing worlds we inhabit? What are some practical tools we can use? How can professional associations such as SLA and ALIA help?
I wanted to hear Stephen Abram speak, but my research funds will only cover conference expenses if I present a paper. After reading the above and wondering exactly how one “terra-forms the living,” I submitted an abstract, on the off chance an event sponsored by SLA would want to hear about teenagers. Despite living in Perth, thus not being a Brisbane local* my abstract was accepted. I’ll be giving a paper at the Brisbane session on Thursday 11 September 2008. I’ll talk about what the teenagers in my focus groups had to say about Web 2.0, although it’s not a term teenagers mention much, if ever!? It’s all just:
Go on MySpace
Chat to friends on MSN
Or just plain: Google it
Updated 1 August to correct a misquote from David Serchay**
I’m currently writing my PhD thesis, collating all the data I amassed from my survey, focus groups and interviews. It’s a slow process, but this week my muse has been visiting and I’ve been writing about challenges to graphic novels in libraries. A discussion on the GNLIB-L email list a couple of months ago reflected some of what my interviewees discussed, so I thought I’d blog about it.
Are comics just for kids?
The perception that comics and graphic novels are “just for kids”  was true in the past, but is no longer the case. Janna Morishima, a publisher of children’s comics and graphic novels, said at the 2007 New York ComicCon, “It has been over forty years since comics were really a kid’s medium” . The perception still lingers and causes problems in libraries with graphic novel collections, particularly those housed within a Young Adult (YA) section.
What may go unchallenged in words only, may become contentious when delivered graphically. 
The visual nature of graphic novels makes titles aimed at a more mature audience more easily accessible than ordinary books, which may have to be read in their entirety to find objectionable passages. A graphic novel could be flicked through, one or two objectionable pictures noticed, and the whole item deemed “inappropriate” . In discussing adult manga in Japan, long time writer on manga, anime and Japanese culture, Fred Patten maintains,
Practically every adult [manga] comic of any length will involve sexual relationships at some point, usually graphically depicted though not to the extent of being X-rated. 
Last year I presented a paper at RAILS 4: Research Applications in Information and Library Studies in Melbourne. My peer-reviewed paper has been published in the June 2008 issue of Australian Academic and Research Libraries. I discussed some preliminary results of my focus groups with teenagers. “Teenagers talking about reading and libraries” is available from here or espace@Curtin.
Past research has shown teenagers to be reluctant to read and less likely to visit libraries than younger children. These conclusions are debated and further investigation is needed. Difficulties abound in researching teenagers’ opinions. Teenagers can be reluctant to participate in activities and peer support is often very important in determining their willingness to take part. Large-scale surveys of hundreds of student participants do not allow in-depth discussion of opinions and attitudes. Focus groups were conducted with metropolitan Perth high school students to investigate teenagers’ thoughts on reading and libraries. Although some teenagers were enamoured of reading and libraries, others were more scathing but still found ways to take part in literacy activities and acquire the information they needed to negotiate their world.
I was looking along the shelf of my library for a book I’d found on the catalogue and I came across The VOYA Reader (Ed. Dorothy M. Broderick, 1990, Scarecrow Press). I looked at the date it was published and when I saw 1990 (back when I was 13) I considered putting it back. Luckily I flicked through the TOC and the “Permission to Read Boring Book Form” caught my eye. Everyone needs access to a good sleep aid.
During the course of my research, 13 year old Carl (not his real name) told me not only was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson boring, but it was the “worst book ever,” unlike a universal favourite Holes by Louis Sachar. I read both these books after becoming a children’s librarian and rediscovering how much better kids books are than those boring adult books. I have to say I agree with Carl. I really tried to like Terabithia, seeing as it’s the same age as I am, but it just wouldn’t happen. And if you disagree with Carl and I, let’s agree to differ :) I’ve just been reading Justine Larbalestier’s eloquent views on liking and disliking books.
Here is a PDF of the Permission to Read Boring Book Form. Reproduced from The VOYA Reader (Ed. Dorothy M. Broderick ©1990 Scarecrow Press p.115). Used with permission of Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) and Scarecrow Press. This material is copyrighted and not reproducible without permission.