Collection Development: Updating My GN and Manga Collection; or, that time I decided I wanted to face my arch nemesis and build a better collection for my patrons
Hello all, Collecting Comics is Ally Watkins’ column, but I’m co-opting her column for a brief moment to share with you how I’m going about re-vamping my graphic novel and manga collection. It’s okay, Ally helped me periodically on this project. I could not have done it without her and the help of several other librarians and my friends on Twitter, who are way better at graphic novel collection development than I am. I went to the experts.
Some of you may be aware, but I am in the midst of a massive collection development project. I took over here 3 1/2 years ago and after getting the Teen MakerSpace organized, I took a deep dive into collection development. That deep dive has included a huge weed (twice now), a re-organization, a diversity audit, and now I am looking at what I have always called my arch-nemesis: graphic novels. Let me state right at the beginning, I do not hate graphic novels or manga. I know that they are valuable and popular formats, they just don’t personally work for me as a reader, which makes ordering them more challenging. And to be honest, I find them overwhelming, in large part because they are often long running series which keep me on my toes and take a lot of space and budget. The budget issue comes in because I feel like I’m always replacing lost or damaged copies. Graphic novel collection development does not come as easily to me as YA collection development does, and I know I’m not alone.
Graphic novels still make up about 8% of the book market, and some 11.3 million graphic novels were sold in 2017. Source
So, here I am taking this deep dive into graphic novels and manga. Let me share with you a quick outline of what I’ve been doing.
I began by running a shelf list and weeding report.
I then made a list of every series that we have and every superhero we have something on. I used the stats to help me determine if it earned shelf space. If something hasn’t circulated in the last year, it goes into the consider weeding pile. My shelf space for this collection is tight and you have to earn your space.
I used the statistical information to determine whether we should keep or weed the series. I was only able to weed about 100 titles as the circulation statistics indicated that this is a high circulating collection. I also want to make a note here that we are very aware that circulation statistics alone can’t be our only measure because we have a large number of manga and gn readers who come in, read books off the shelf, and then place them back on the shelf. We see it happen daily. We have tried to put a basket for readers and asked that our patrons don’t re-shelve these items to help us get a better idea of what people are reading. I highly recommend not relying on circulation statistics alone for a manga/graphic novel collection because of in-house readers.
I went through and filled holes on massively popular series that we get a lot of I.L.L. requests for. This was a time consuming process that involved my shelf list which let me know which items were missing or lost.
We then made the decision to re-catalog all of our YA and Adult graphic novels simply as Graphic Novels (for us, GN means graphic novels and manga). This allowed us to put all of our adult and YA GNs into one location. Because we combined them both, we no longer wanted to promote them as YA or house them in YA. So they are no longer YA, but they are YA adjacent. We did this because we had a handful of graphic novels stuck in the 741.5 section, like The Walking Dead, that we knew our teens were reading but were getting lost in adult nonfiction. We wanted to adopt a more book store model and put all of our items of the same format into one location, but we also wanted to make sure that we weren’t saying the titles were necessarily YA. We do still have a separate E and J graphic novel section on our children’s floor.
I then turned to my librarian friends who excel at graphic novel collection development, including TLT’s own Ally Watkins, and several people I know from Twitter. I even tweeted pics of the series we do have and asked for recommendations. I compiled these recommendations and did some research.
Graphic Novel/Manga Collection Development
One picture is what we have on our shelves
The other picture are series that were recommended by readers and librarians pic.twitter.com/TN4wrSphAG
— TeenLibrarianToolbox (@TLT16) February 21, 2018
I of course did the research and looked at things like award winners and YALSA best graphic novels lists. If a series appeared on a list, it got higher priority when considering whether or not to add it.
I then grabbed a notepad and pen and went a spent a day at Barnes and Noble. This was the most illuminating part of my research. You see, my library has two ranges of graphic novels and manga. Barnes and Noble has sixteen. That’s right, they have fourteen more shelving ranges of graphic novels and manga than the library has. I spoke at length to the staff at B&N and learned that graphic novels and manga are high selling items and a growing market. I knew from our stats that graphic novels were circulating well for us, but I had no idea how big of a market they are. Barnes and Noble has as much graphic novels and manga as they have Young Adult literature. I was blown away by this. Also, going through the graphic novels and manga at Barnes and Noble allowed me to look at a few titles from each recommended series, thumb through them, look at the rating on the back, etc. I felt it allowed me to make a somewhat more informed decision.
“According to NPD Bookscan data from global information provider the NPD Group, the comics and graphic novels category in the U.S. trade book market has experienced compound annual unit sales growth of 15 percent over the last three years, making it one of the highest growth categories in the trade book marketplace.” Source
I then placed an order to help add some new series to my graphic novel collection. I ordered a couple of titles in each series. I will then look in a couple of months to see how they are circulating and determine whether or not we want to add more of that series.
Today I am sharing with you a shelf list of the series that we either own or were recommended to me. Please note, it does not contain stand alone titles or titles by authors such as Raina Telgemeier or Gene Luan Yang, this is simply a look at some manga series that are recommended and some superheroes that you might want to make sure you have. These are not titles necessarily recommended by me, but have been recommended to me or their circulation at our library meant they were worth keeping in our collection. I am sure there are many series that we are missing, in fact, please feel free to comment and let me know what else you recommend.
|Series Title (GNs and Manga, not superheroes)|
|Attack on Titan|
|Behind the Scenes|
|Chilling Adventures of Sabrina|
|Cleopatra in Space|
|The Far Side|
|The Good Neighbors|
|Haven’t You Heard|
|I Hate Fairyland|
|I Kill Giants|
|The Last Airbender|
|The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzaumiya|
|Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur|
|One Punch Man|
|Ouran High School Host Club|
|Pretty Guardian (Sailor Moon)|
|Scott Pilgrim vs. The World|
|A Silent Voice|
|Twin Star Exorcists|
|The Unbeatable Squirrell Girl|
|The Walking Dead|
|Guardians of the Galaxy|
Filed under: Collection Development
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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