Scholarship at Penn Libraries

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Book Chapter

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The Library's Guide to Graphic Novels

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This chapter describes how the Penn Libraries began collecting Japanese- and Korean-language comics, focusing largely on manga from Japan aimed at engaging language students and instructors with Japanese library materials. These patrons are a non-traditional demographic typically not targeted by Japanese-language collecting in academic libraries. Penn’s initial approach to this collection has likewise been non-traditional, as we looked to fan and commercial portals for popular audiences to assess the pulse of contemporary publishing in Japan, rather than relying solely on library-facing resources such as WorldCat or publisher advertisements. We advocate for a holistic approach to collecting manga that embraces: dialogue with previously underserved patrons; surveys of varied online sources like marketplaces, fan websites, and social media; and active awareness of current, socially relevant topics in Japan. The methods we describe to identify, catalog, and provide bibliographic access to Japanese comic material in a library setting can be applied even in libraries that do not have staff with expertise in the language. We encourage other libraries to explore partnerships with institutions like the Penn Libraries in their communities or via interlibrary lending, who have the staff expertise and resources to develop more extensive Japanese-language manga collections. In turn, institutions such as ours have an opportunity to serve as leaders in collecting and making their collections available to the broader community.

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© 2020 the authors


comics, graphic novels, Japanese, manga, libraries, language learning, library science



Date Posted: 17 March 2022