Daily Archives: May 6, 2009

Graphic Novels: Cataloguing Issues

It seems that no matter how many times we revisit our rules for cataloguing graphic novels (and when I say graphic novels, I include graphic non-fiction), a new issue always seems to creep up.

Lynne LeGrow, in her new blog Cataloguing Aids, brings up the issue of main entry access points.   Given that graphic novels consist mainly of illustrations, should the main entry be the illustrator, or the author?  Lynne writes:

My personal opinion is that when dealing with graphic novels one should be consistent and always use the artist as the main entry, providing an added entry for the author of the text.  Anyone searching for copy lately will realize that there seems to be no consistency whatsoever.  Some give the main entry to the author, some to the artist.  To my horror, I have found copy that names only the author and the artist is not even given an added entry.  This practice is in direct violation of AACR2 rule 21.30K2.

To further muddy the argument, we must remember Rule 21.24 Collaboration between Artist and Writer.  Rule 21.24 states that ‘collaboration’ in this case means that the artist and the author have worked to produce the work.  The rule states that if collaboration exists then the main entry is entered under the person named first on the title page, with an added entry provided for the second named person.  A further obstacle to consistent cataloguing is that many graphic novels do not have title pages, and often the publisher gets very creative with the cover.

Lynne and I are colleagues, so I understand her point of view. In fact, we’ve discussed it and I’m in agreement.  However, that doesn’t mean that our records necessary reflect this!

In the case of graphic novels, our existing records or rules don’t address the unique difficulty in cataloguing them.  Another of the cataloguers in my department has indicated that an access point with a geographic subdivision is also important.  These subvisions would indicate if the graphic novel is out of Japan, the United States and so on.  Since graphic novels vary in “flavour” depending on their country of origin, avid readers of Manga or graphic novels from Japan may have no interest in graphic novels from the United States.

The same can be said about the main entry.  Are readers looking for the writer of the story, or are they more interested in the artist?

While there is significant literature available discussing which Dewey number should be assigned to graphic novels and where they should be shelved, little is written about access points specific to graphic novels or content that enhances our bibliographic records.

While we are muddling through, our collections are growing.  I anticipate a very significant graphic novel project in the future at Halifax Public Libraries – where Lynne and I, as well as several other colleagues, will take a serious look at what interests readers and how we can provide them with the best and most useful information within our bibliographic records.

In the meantime, here are some additional resources to check out:

Graphic Novels, University of Urbana-Champaign

Cataloguing Resources –  The MinervaCats blog, out of Maine, includes a nice list of graphic novel resources about halfway through the resource list.

Cataloguing Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-fiction, Part I

Cataloguing Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-fiction, Part II

Cataloguing Resources – Lewis & Clark Library System



Filed under Access Issues, Subject Headings