The other day, I was in my teen room sitting at the service desk. A young woman entered, cautiously looking around trying to scope out something specific. Sadly, she turned and was about to leave when I asked if I could help. She looked down and mumbled something about manga. I walked her over to the graphic novel section (kept only in the teen room) and asked if this was what she was interested in. Well, it was as if the sun suddenly rose in the sky – complete with birds singing and flowers blooming. She turned to me and as if in a wonderful dream, she whispered, "Oh yes!" She spent about 30 minutes or so perusing our collection and finally decided on about 20 manga and anime titles. I have never seen a more contented look in a teen’s face that that young girl’s when she left. It brought to mind my recollections of adolescence. Having a crush on Scotty from Star Trek (the original series), wearing dresses made from paper (a fad that didn't last too long!), and watching and listening to the Beatles (Paul was my favorite at the time) has been indelibly etched in my brain. And reading comics such as Archie, Superman, and the Fantastic Four (I really liked and connected to the Thing). It’s interesting to note that that young woman and I will share a common memory – reading comics.
As you peruse the many and fascinating articles on graphic novels and their rise in popularity, think back to what you might have read as a ‘tween. I think that we all can connect to that moment in time when our visual landscapes included precursors of graphic novels. And that is our bridge to our teen clientele. From traditional comics to specialized manga titles, the wealth of graphic novels in many forms is a constant for today’s youth.
And it seems that, as quirky as this may sound, graphic novels seem to embody the basic elements of YALSA’s strategic plan – advocacy, marketing, and research. Advocacy - because librarians purchase and defend their place on the stacks. Marketing – many librarians plan programs and lesson plans around anime and manga. Research – public and school staff formulate questions for their teen clientele and students in an effort to find out what kind of graphic novels they want.
This issue is devote to the graphic novel – in all of its varieties, as well as 2 new columns: Perspectives on YA Practice by Mary K. Chelton and a Research column by YALSA’s Research Committee.
And remember: enjoy your memories of youth past with youth present through the graphic novel!