Tag Archives: 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

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Cataloguing Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-Fiction, Part I

I thought I’d write about cataloguing graphic novels and graphic non-fiction today. This is an issue that was raised in our department recently and involved the addition of subject headings to our records to identify fiction and non-fiction graphic novels. In other words, what do we put in the $v of the 650 field.

Before I go into this though, it is important to understand what we put in our 655 field. The reason for this is that my decision regarding the use and subdvision of subject headings was based on what we include in our 655s.

Because this could end up being a very long post, I’m going to split this discussion into two entries. In this post, I am going to talk about 655 genre headings for Graphic Fiction and Non-Fiction.

When we began our graphic novel collection, our practice was to add 655 genre headings only. There were no subject headings assigned because all of the graphic novels belonged in the YA and Adult collections. The rationale was that the collection was small enough that those patrons looking for graphic novels would search by genre or series, rather than subject.

In later years, we started developing a Juvenile graphic novel collection as well as an Adult and YA graphic non-fiction collection. Issues then arose over how to differentiate between the Adult/YA collection and the J collection. At this time, all of the graphic novels were still fiction. As a result, all of the items which fell under “Graphic Novels” were given the classification number 741.5. Wanting to retain this uniformity, it was decided that we needed to take a closer look at the genre headings to help patrons distringuish J, YA and Adult graphic novels.

It was then decided that we would make local genre headings based on the LC’s genre headings. This would allow patrons to continue to browse by genre, series, artists, etc. and at the same time, be able to distinguish if it was a J graphic novel or Adult/YA graphic novel by looking at the genre headings in the bibliographic record. In addition, separate collection codes were created for each.

Example of LC’s genre headings with our local headings are below:
655 _ 7 $aFantasy comic books, strips, etc. $2lcsh
655 _ 7 $aFantasy comic books, strips, etc., Juvenile. $2local

655 _7 $aGraphic novels. $2lcsh
655 _7 $aGraphic novels, Juvenile.$2local

655 _7 $aComic books, strips, etc. $2lcsh
655 _7 $aComic books, strips, etc., Juvenile. $2local

Also, cataloguers were given the go ahead to create new genre headings if they felt a more specific genre heading would be appropriate. However, they would only be at liberty to do so if the “new” genre heading related to our LC fiction genres already found in the catalogue.

This policy was working very well and frontline staff were providing us with positive feedback, until graphic non-fiction started to make its appearance. When we started to grow a graphic non-fiction collection and the content began to become more mature, we needed to think about how we were cataloguing fiction and non-fiction.

With the growing popularity of graphic non-fiction, we had to make further choices for access of these materials. Our first decision was to classify graphic non-fiction in accordance with our existing practices of cataloguing non-fiction. Each graphic non-fiction item would be assigned a classification number that reflected the content of the item. At that time, we also decided to alter our genre headings to reflect fiction or non-fiction. In this regard, we created local genre headings that mirrored the existing graphic novels headings.

Graphic novels (fiction)
655 _7 $a Graphic novels. $2lcsh or 655 _7 $a Graphic novels, Juvenile. $2local

Graphic non-fiction
655 _7 $aGraphic non-fiction. $2local or 655 _7$aGraphic non-fiction, Juvenile. $2local

As a result, the classification number and collection code would indicate that the item was non-fiction, and the 655 genre heading(s) would indicate whether the item was fiction, non-fiction, J, YA or Adult.

My next post will deal directly with the challenges, our original decision on how to deal with it, and then our reversal in this decision and how we catalogue these materials. Specifically, it will discussion the introduction of subject headings in graphic novels/non-fiction bibliographic records.

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