Monday, October 26, 2009

Library Matters

The Beat highlighted a pair of interesting articles regarding comics and public libraries this morning.  The articles struck a note with me.  While my comics reading life did start at the spinner rack, it was certainly expanded exponentially by frequent trips to the public library.  I also spent six years of my life working at a library, so stuff that involves libraries take on a special interest for me. 

The second article mentioned is actually pretty cool.  Its about a grant that’s helping smaller libraries build their “graphic novel” (not my favorite term) collections.  I was fortunate enough to visit libraries with fairly well maintained (for the time) graphic novel collections, but I have to assume that, given the stigma often attached to comics, this was not the case across the board. 

This sort of thing was also the subject of some conversation at APE that Ben and myself had with other creator/publishers.  That is, when it came to alternative markets (IE - any market that’s not the direct market/Diamond Distro), a lot of folks seemed to think that selling to libraries was not only a viable and under-explored market, but also an intelligent one.  Given that the news stand distro and spinner racks are (more or less) things of the past, libraries are one of the few places where new readers can be exposed to comics, it’s the ideal place to gain interest in your comic/idea.

The first article (I know, going out of order), was more of a censorship issue, which, I could probably go off on for days, but that’s not really the direction I want to take this blog in.  Suffice it to say, a couple library workers lost their jobs for not giving an 11 year old girl a book she had requested (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), as they felt it was inappropriate.  The surprising  thing to me… well, maybe not all that surprising…  was how shocked people were that its pretty much mandate library policy to allow access to  patrons of any age whatever material they want.  Now you know.

Anyhow, interesting choice of book that became the subject of this.  I’ve read the particular book in question, and I’m sure I could guess what the workers felt was offensive (which, whether or not its appropriate for an 11 year old, is a matter of opinion, but it certainly wasn’t the “filth” or “pornography” that they described).  I’d be a little less surprised by the matter if it was something more along the lines of R. Crumb or something similar.

Oddly enough the Beat also ran an article today about W magazine featuring an R. Crumb gallery of “Varieties of Women.”

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