8/18/2009

The comic book question

I've been bad. A very bad librarian.

I've been preaching heresy. The type of heresy that gets you strapped to a stake and lit up with last years old magazines and DDC's.

Yes. I've been uttering those words yet again:

Deep Breath.

"Comics are in fact good for you."

But not only for you but for your borrowers, your librarians and possibly even your priest, imam or rabbi.

Okay, perhaps that last one might be a bit iffy, but I'm waiting patiently for the day that they bring out a graphic novel version of the Bible, Koran and Talmud.
Then comics will REALLY be good for you.
But I digress. Dangerously so.

I was once again called upon to do a presentation on comics and why they should be the librarians best friend.
Lo and behold, more than 5 people showed up.
In fact, about 15 librarians in all shapes and sizes plonked themselves down and in unmistakable body language conveyed those dreaded two words that all supplicants, seeking a fare hearing, fear:
"Convince me."

I should mention that I was so nervous I couldn't get my memory stick into my managers MANAGERS' laptop. (Yes I AM graceful under pressure)

My biggest problem when explaining anything is that you need to lay the foundation quite solid. Because if you don't lay your foundations good and proper, people won't get it when uou get to the meaty stuff.
Especially with comics.

You have to hit all the notes:
-sequential art!
-medium not genre!
-multiple genres available!
-facilitates reading and comprehension!
bang! bang! BANG!

And if you do that, you have a fighting chance that someone might be with you till the end.

But the problem is thus:
Comics are poisonous to South African Public Librarians.
They react to them in the exact same way, a person would react to a darkly dressed man rattling a door in the middle of the night.

He's either up to no good or he's an idiot for getting locked out.

Comics: It's no good and you have to be an idiot to read one.

So long story short: The jury is still out. The Catalogue reflects the graphic novels bought from the previous year with no new acquisitions.....yet.

The thing is that even you buy Graphic Novels and you stick it in the library, you're going to have to sell them to your patrons (read: teens) pretty hard.
And I fear that most of our librarians don't know how to "sell their product" or engage the clientele.
It's again like the guy prowling around at night, you don't need to talk to him because he's either up to no good or an idiot who forgot his keys, even if he's wearing a bright green neon jacket that says: Emergency Services.

Which makes me a very very nervous librarian.



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