Tag Archives: cataloguing graphic novels

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

Cataloguing Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-Fiction, Part II

Given that it’s a beautiful, sunny Friday before a long weekend ( at least in Canada), this is going to be a bit of an “light” posting.

As promised, here is the second part of the Graphic Novels posting that deals with cataloguing Graphic Novels vs. Graphic Non-Fiction. The first part was posted on October 24, 2007 and deals specifically with the 655 genre fields. Today’s topic deals with the 650 subject heading fields.

Using 650s created quite a bit of discussion in our department. How do patrons search and look for graphic fiction and non-fiction? To what extent are subject headings important given our use of 655s?

In the end, it was decided that adults and YA tend to look for their graphic items by artist, type (ie. Manga) or genre. In general, they do not need numerous subject access points. As a result, when cataloguing graphic novels and non-fiction for A and YA, we use a limited about of subject headings or exclude subject headings. This will be left to the discretion of the cataloguer.

It was also decided that for all J Graphic novels, we would follow the general practice of cataloguing children’s materials: more is better. In addition, we wanted to adhere to our existing cataloguing rules for children’s materials, as they are accustomed to searching by subject. These items tend to have themes throughout and as a result, the use of subject headings is freely used.

Below is our cataloguing outline for use of the 650 in cataloguing these items.

Graphic Novels (Fiction)
Classification number: 741.5

650 Subject Headings
Apply subject headings when appropriate. If the novel does not have one or two main themes (I.e. WWII), subject headings should be avoided.

When cataloguing Juvenile Graphic Novels, assign more subject headings as is the practice when cataloguing all J materials.

When using subject headings, they should be divided by $vComic books, stips, etc.

650 _ 0 $aSchool $vComic books, strips, etc.

DO NOT ADD $vFiction OR $vJuvenile fiction

Graphic Non-Fiction
Assign classification numbers as it relates to the content, the same as we do for regular non-fiction.

650 Subject Headings
Add subject headings when appropriate. Follow the rules for cataloguing regular non-fiction. However, the subject heading should be subdivided by $v Comic books, strips, etc.

650 _0 $aWorld War, 1939-1945 $vComic books, strips, etc.

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Filed under Access Issues, Subject Headings