Sporadic Sequential
Friday, July 25, 2008
Friday Food for Thought: Children's Books, Comics, and Libraries

In The New Yorker's fascinating piece on the rise of children's literature, children's sections in libraries, and a battle over one particular children's book, this bit jumped out at me:
Even if you got inside [the libraries], the librarians would shush you, carping about how the “young fry” read nothing but “the trashy”: Scott, Cooper, and Dickens (one century’s garbage being, as ever, another century’s Great Books).
It made me wonder about the rise of comics, particularly manga, in public libraries. There have been many articles about the popularity of graphic novels in libraries and it seems like all the librarians interviewed are excited about comics' appeal to younger readers, but have there been any obstacles along the way? I know parents and other patrons have demanded that certain books be removed, but have any librarians themselves objected to stocking comics on the shelves? Have there been any influential librarians (such as Anne Carroll Moore back in her day) who objected to manga as unsuitable for children? Are there any librarians who stamp "Not recommended for purchase by expert" on the cover of any comic that crosses their desk? Has anyone written a history of how the graphic novels in libraries revolution unfolded? (I'm wondering if Robin E. Brenner's book Understanding Manga and Anime would cover any of this.)

The quote also made me wonder which of today's graphic novels will be regarded as next century's Great Books. Watchmen already seems to be pretty safely on that list, but what else?

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