Latin America and Caribbean

Responses: Categories

"Our library does not differentiate between longer and shorter story arcs. For example, every 4-panel strip of For better or for worse can stand alone, and days can be skipped, and some days are unique in story line. I'd never put them in category A, even if there was an eventual split. And if you've ever tried to figure out what was going on in some of the superhero comics, you'd realize that the plot has to be very, very subservient to the art. If the whole story is told in pictures, I say it's all the same thing regardless of length. Perhaps a code following 741.5(9XX), much like an 8XX construct to say something equivalent to full length vs 'short story' length might be useful, but I don't want them in separate numbers. Especially not in fiction. You don't read graphic and text novels in the same way."

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"I am intrigued by the proposed division of the graphic works into two categories based on narrative length.

I do feel strongly that works such as Bone by Jeff Smith and Nausicaa of Valley Wind do not belong in 741.5, but instead belong in Fiction. My categorization in my library has shown readers find the GN's more easily in Fiction and they circulate far more regularly. Any move in this direction is naturally welcome. However, I find division into categories a bit of a curious way of going about this.

Would the two categories be placed differently, for instance, Category A in 800's or Fiction, and Category B in 741.5?"

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"Thank you so much! This is definitely a step in the right direction.

My book on graphic novels in libraries is being published . . . . In it, I spend considerable time analyzing the differences between single-panel and single-joke/idea cartoons, and literary pieces (graphic novels, and this would extend, per your presentation, to fotonovelas). Most generally, those in search of a complete and developed story (whether fiction or nonfiction) are not looking for the same material as those seeking single-idea representations. Therefore, dividing the sequential art universe at least into A and B is the beginning of getting it better than lumping any image-driven text in with all image-driven texts!"

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"I very much agree with your ideas for separating graphic novels, etc. into two groups. I catalog for a public library that collects quite a few of these items."

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"No, I do not believe this would be a useful and practical split. I do not find the split of comic strips into: those that have an anecdotal quality and yet have continuing narratives (For Better or for Worse by Lynn Franks Johnston); and, those that have continuing characters and situations but lack narrative lines that continue for longer than anecdotes (Garfield by Jim Davis) to be practical. This distinction may be useful in a few settings, but I believe more library users look at all the comics published in a local newspaper's comics section to be the same type of material. Thus books which republish collections of comic strips should receive the same classification. They should all be together in 'category A'.

I could maybe see a separation between comic strips and the material lacking continuing characters and lacking continuing narration such as caricatures by Max Beerbohm, Al Hirschfeld, David Levine, and New Yorker and Punch cartoons. These are not published in the same manner as the local newspaper's comics section."

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"Thank you for forwarding this supplement to me. I have reviewed your solution and think it is a very sensible way to handle the material.

Please extend thanks to the committee from me and all of my colleagues who love the manga and graphic novel media."

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"I thought the initial rationale for placing Graphic Novels within an expanded Dewey 741.5 class was a good one. Rather than agonize too much over the exact place of this material within the overall universe of Literature, you elected to allow it to remain within an Art class, with options for bringing out various sub-genres such as horror or science fiction, or subject treatment, by adding notation from Dewey Table 3C.

This is an extremely logical arrangement and an orderly extension of DDC to cover a rapidly growing class of new material. I regret that LC did not arrive at it sooner, since it might have provided this public library an acceptable way to accommodate such material without going to an invented non-Dewey class. In the event, however, we have had to make a somewhat arbitrary division between fiction-like material, classed as GN (graphic novel) and arranged by author, and caricature/comic material, remaining in 741.5.

The reason for my telling you all this is to offer that your supplementary proposal to differentiate between works with 'long' narratives and works that are no more than 'anecdotes' seems fraught with the same difficulties that plagued us as we negotiated with public service staff over definitions of the term Graphic Novel. To expect that even trained catalogers could consistently decide whether material in a given format such as comic strips contained a continuous narrative or was merely anecdotal seems to me obviously a recipe for trouble. Let in public service staff and you have a completely unmanageable situation, it seems to me.

Instead, let me recommend that division by easily recognized forms, e.g. single cartoons, strips, comic books, comic book collections, and book-length works, might provide a useful and less contentious optional arrangement for those wanting it. It is also possible for libraries that collect this material to separate it by assigning it to specific locations and collections, regardless of classification. For instance, juvenile material not needing full Dewey treatment can simply be located in a graphic fiction section for what is deemed by public services staff to be the appropriate age group.

I would still prefer, for reasons already stated, your initial proposal simply expanding 741.5 to allow treatment by literary genre or theme as well as by country for authors."

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"My concerns are mainly about Category B--it will be nothing but confusing to try to make an artificial distinction between comic strips based on how long the narrative loop is, because the main feature of strips is that they are STRIPS, not that they do or don't continue the story. The characters do continue, and the narrative is there in the reader's mind even when it is not in the strip. There is a huge difference between Garfield for example, and a one-shot New Yorker cartoon.

Besides, unless you can get an agreement from all the cartoonists, you have no guarantee that they won't have a lengthy narrative at some point. In fact, I think most regular readers are aware that both Peanuts and Garfield have done just that, even if not consistently.

Dewey was intended to put things in a logical order on the shelves for the convenience of readers and librarians, but sometimes, I fear, those of us in public service feel it has become an intellectual exercise among catalogers. How about discussing an issue like this at ALA among reference librarians, not just among Dewey people?"

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"The 'Supplement to Draft schedule 741.5' proposes to make a distinction between graphic works that have a narrative and graphic works with no narrative.

This distinction could be made only when the classifier has the item in hand and can examine the pictures and text. This may seem like an obvious requirement. But there are some situations in which the classifier will not have the item in hand.

One such situation occurs when LC catalogers are classifying works for which publishers have submitted data for Cataloging in Publication (CIP). In the case where a publisher submits paper galleys and introductory information and a CIP data form, the publisher usually does not submit pictorial data. (This can be a problem for the classifier for art books of many kinds, besides cartoons and graphic novels.) The classifier must rely on the description given by the publisher, without seeing the pictures, or he must phone the publisher and ask for more information. Only rarely is any pictorial data sent in to LC.

When the publisher submits data for the CIP program by electronic file, i.e., for 'ECIPs', there will be no pictures. Our system is not equipped at present for publishers to send pictorial data.

It seems clear to me that a classifier could not make the distinction between narrative comics or 'no narrative' comics, if he had only the 'ECIP' data to work with. And publishers will not know to give this kind of information about the work they are submitting for cataloging.

With the increase of exchange of information in electronic formats, we must consider whether there will be other situations, besides the CIP program, where the classifier must work without the finished work in hand to examine."

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"The division proposed on Supplement to Draft schedule 741.5 seems to be a sensible way to divide material originally placed together in 741.5."

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"I think the distinction is useful and generally would be practical.

I also think that the suggested 'if in doubt' recommendation for category A points catalogers in the right direction and should adequately cover the grey area that catalogers will likely find with comic strips that are anecdotal most of the time but occasionally have continuing stories for a week or two, with a strip that starts off with somewhat longer narratives but devolves into just another anecdote strip, or with a strip that starts off with recurring characters and anecdotal stories then starts having longer narratives.

One potential user complaint I foresee is that if a recurring character in an anecdotal strip also appears in a separate long-form narrative (e.g. there are a few true graphic novels featuring the Peanuts characters, most or all of which are adaptations of the television specials, and there are a few true graphic novels originally published in that format that feature Garfield), then works featuring that character will be split into two notations. However, such splits already happen elsewhere in the schedules (e.g. 'Peanuts' vs. the script of 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown', M*A*S*H the movie vs. M*A*S*H the television show, or the Star Trek television shows vs. the Star Trek movies), so that should be an acceptable trade-off for being able to make this differentiation. However, it might be worth mentioning this sort of case in a 'see' reference."

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"We strongly agreed with the proposal to class graphic novels with comic strips and other similar materials in 741.5. However, there was some difference of opinion on the question of whether a further distinction should be made between works with extended narratives and works with extremely short narratives. One person thought that the distinction was too obscure to be worth making. Another felt that ideally there should be such a distinction, although it might be difficult to apply. There appeared to be a consensus, though, that it was not essential to make the distinction."

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"Well, I've been mulling over this issue while in the midst of an online class on YA literature, which happened to include several graphic autobiographies: Pedro and Me, and Persepolis. I have had the nagging thought that, regardless of 'continuing narrative', Doonesbury and For Better or Worse are not in the same category as, say, Asterix, Spider-Man, Blankets, Sandman, etc. I've chatted with one of our Reader's Advisory specialists, who happens to be my supervisor, and who has also discussed this topic at length with our Reader's Advisory Team, and we both feel that if:

it doesn't read like narrative fiction;

you would never do reader's advisory with it;

you can pick it up, open it anywhere and read bits without losing continuity;

And, if the storyline/narrative doesn't last longer than a few weeks or a month;

It's not a graphic novel, and doesn't belong with them.

As a cataloger, I would be very hard-pressed to understand why Doonesbury goes in one place, and Calvin and Hobbes, Luann, Cathy, Crankshaft, Stone Soup, Zits, and Boondocks go in another number, when all of them have story arcs similar in length to FBOFW and Doonesbury. (I read a lot of newspaper comics!!)

If I were to follow the 'continuing narrative' aspect while cataloging, I would have to put Cathy in with graphic novels, as her wedding story lasted for an entire year. Ditto some of Mark Trail's and Judge Parker's narratives. Ok, I know that's a stretch! But I think it illustrates my thinking."

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"Comics Librarianship has been making waves for the past few years in the USA, but libraries in France and Quebec have been collecting 'bande dessinée' for decades. As opposed to comic books, the Franco-Belgian format of choice is the 'album'. These hard-covered books of about 50 pages are more than suitable for our institutions. We have a few collections in Quebec that top the 10,000 document mark. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss the problems that have plagued our collections, in order to share with our anglophone colleagues who are just starting their book-length comics collections. The proposed schedule places essays and other monographs that discuss sequential art in 741.5, while actual works of sequential art will be located in 741.59 and organized by country of original publication. An optional sub-arrangement would separate works with short (caricatures and comic strips) and long narrative structure. Having no other basis of classification, libraries would then rely on AACR2 and sort the documents according to the main access point to the document. As most works are collaborative projects, graphic novels and trade paperbacks would be first sorted by country of original publication and then by the first artist mentioned in the work. Without getting into details, if (and when) artists change within a series, the new works will get dispersed in the collection, confusing users and staff alike. Think simply of Spider-Man. Originally created by Stan Lee, many other artists have worked on the webbed wonder, including Todd McFarlane. In that sense, all issues of Spider-Man would be in the USA section, but classified by artist. A novice browsing the collection would arguably not find all Spider-Man documents easily. . . . .Some libraries in Quebec have explored alternate classification systems. The most popular approach sorts works according to their hero or the name given to the series. All other works that do not fit in this category are organized separately by artist. So, Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes is filed at Calvin as a series, the Spider-Man books are together under this hero's name and Maus by Art Spiegelman is filed by the artist's name. This dual method of grouping, by hero/series and by artist, seems to keep document processing at its simplest and solve most of the retrieval problems faced by patrons."

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"I must concur with . . . that his more user friendly proposal of a dual system of sorting by hero/ series or by artist. Using the hero/ series as primary sort makes great sense. It frustrates and puzzles patrons when things that go together aren't together."

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