Managing the Unmanageable Manga

During these grey days of winter, combat seasonal-deficit-disorder and take control of your colorful YA Manga collections.marymillermangapic

Popular series seem to go on forever…Naruto is on volume 59, Bleach on volume 54, One Piece volume 66 out in March, and they show little signs of ending. Unfortunately, YA shelf space does not expand as waistlines do around the holidays. Breathe deeply and decide what to weed and what to keep. Circulation statistics do not rule as sole criteria since this is a collection that flies out the library and gives all Young Adult librarians warm fuzzy feelings that teens are reading.

When deciding what to weed, consult with your anime and manga club. Do they still read series that have ended? What are their favorite series and what are their least favorites? Hunting though the manga you will probably discover series that ceased after a few volumes, and now you have room to order new series.

There are three very helpful sources.  No Flying No Tights, Graphic Novel Reporter, and The New York Times manga bestsellers list.  The library journals have articles on manga and most regularly review new series. Each January, YALSA publishes their best graphic novels list which includes new and popular manga titles.

At the YALD (Young Adult Librarian’s Discussion) meeting on January 16th at the Des Plaines Library, several librarians commented that they use Otaku USA , Viz, and the Tokyo Pop newsletter.

Join YALSA’s Electronic Discussion Lists for another great discovery tool. Young adult librarians discuss many issues from new and popular titles, how to start a manga collection, and shelving dilemmas.  The organization of graphic novels relies on collaboration between cataloging and public service departments.  Each library tends to discover a “whatever works” solution.

Your friendly comic book stores are also useful allies. They are suppliers of free comics to libraries on Free Comic Book Day.  To find a comic store close to your library consult the Free Comic Book Day website.freecomicbookdaylogo

Even with careful checking some manga series will slip through the cracks and not be discovered until a teen request an issue and the series is now on volume 15. Thanks to library systems and the generous sharing of materials a new manga series is just a click away. This is the perfect time to reassure yourself that perfection is unattainable and place the system hold. As with shelf space, YA book budgets are not expandable either.


Creating a Non-Fiction Collection for Teens

A lot has changed in regards to my library’s teen space & collection within the past two years. In September of 2009, a thorough weeding project made room for our newly created teen space. No longer in an awkward part of the children’s room, the teens now have their own area in the adult department. It’s full of many things that were not available (exclusively or at all) to the teens before. There’s a table! And lots of chairs! And a zine collection! And teen-created artwork on the walls! It’s pretty great.

One thing that we didn’t have, however, was a separate non-fiction collection for teens. Books that would be considered teen non-fiction were mixed in with the adult collection (although there were some juvenile non-fiction books that may have worked for teens, as well). It wasn’t until December of 2010 that we decided to create an entirely separate non-fiction collection for teens that would be housed in the teen space. I’m not exactly sure what took us so long, considering we already have graphic novels, manga, Cliffs Notes, and YA audiobooks as part of the teen collection. But I am glad we made the move!

I pulled some books from the library’s other collections & then also ordered a bunch of new items (books on health, relationships, finance, etc) to balance out the collection. I’ve been putting some of the newer, more appealing books on display (Lauren Conrad Style, the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook) to draw attention to this new section of the teen space. And it’s made a big difference. It seems that more teen non-fiction is being checked out, which is awesome. Now I am waiting patiently for one of our teen patrons to check out First Guitar Tutor (by Terry Burrows) & become a world famous rock star. I can’t wait!

Beyond Review Journals – Finding Cool Books for Your Collection

Review journals are always the first place most of us to go to find books to buy for our collections.  But good as they are (and as a reviewer for Booklist I think I’m contractually obligated to say that), we all know that not every book with teen appeal gets reviewed in one journal or another.

So – where else to go when you want to find some cool books for your collection? Well, your best bet is to go where the teens are going.  Or, read what mags they’re reading. Be open minded about what you see and you’re sure to find some neat titles at a number of venues – print, online, or physical.

1) Urban Outfitters – Okay, so you have to put aside all the drinking game and Kama Sutra titles loaded up on their book table, but I always find something I want in my collection when I browse this retailer which has branded itself cool and edgy.  You can look through their online “book store” (find it referenced under Apartment), but I really prefer to visit the stores.  That way I can actually skim through the books to determine whether it has content I can feel comfortable having in my collection (remember, no journal reviews means no back up if a book gets challenged), and it also gives me a chance to surreptitiously watch what teens in the store are picking up.  A cool title I just found there:  The World of Geekcraft

2) Modcloth – an online retailer.  Again, books come under their Apartment heading.  Since they mainly sell fashion, the majority of books I come across here have something to do with style, i.e. Fifty Dresses That Changed the World and Fifty Shoes That Changed the World are recent gems that will work well in my nonfiction collection.

3) “Rolling Stone,” “Entertainment Weekly,” etc. – Books reviewed in these pages often rank high in teen appeal – especially those that profile bands and entertainers.  And don’t be afraid to buy books about long gone bands or dead entertainers.  Among certain young adults I know, anything about Johnny Cash is hot (yeah!), so Roseanne Cash’s memoir is something to consider.

3) Bookstores – Whether you browse in  indies or chains, never visit a bookstore without a notebook.  I especially find books I want to buy in the humor section.  Examples? Desperate Cupcakes and Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime.  Peruse the comics and manga section too when you’re out and about.  I almost always find something I’ve missed.

That which we call a weed by any other name would smell as dusty

Before the mad rush that is the library summer reading program we decided to aggressively weed the fiction collections, a job that may have been a smidge overdue.  My criteria began with creating a report of every item that hasn’t circulated in two years.  My list was 215 pages long.  It quickly became apparent that not only had the collection not been weeded in a long time, it had never EVER been weeded.  The following list contains a few “gems” that I found, keep in mind that these books are only the authors with a “B” last name.  This list is meant to be funny and maybe a little sad.  Enjoy!

Baywatch: Earthquake! – Casey Brady

The world was a simpler place when this book was published.  The names David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson only brought one thing to mind: Baywatch.  Now one is more famous for a video of himself eating a cheeseburger and we won’t get into the video that made the other one notorious.

Did You Hear About Amber? – Cherie Bennett

You didn’t hear about Amber??  That’s OK nobody’s heard about this Amber for about 10 years now.

The Rabbit Tattoo – Susannah Brin

All the cool kids have tattoos especially neck tattoos, but a rabbit tattoo I just don’t think that trend has caught on yet.  The rabbit on his neck seems to looking for something and upon closer inspection you can see he is looking for his teeth, which are in the mouth of the kid.  Poor artwork, poor book.

Raiders of the Lost Ark – Campbell Black

There is nothing spectacularly wrong with this book, I mean there’s even a new Indiana Jones movie out.  The problem lies when I opened the book up.  Our library acquired this book in November of ’81.  That is one month after I was born.  I’m 28 now, there is just no reason for this book to be on the shelf.

The 79 Squares – Malcolm J. Bosse

Let’s explore this cover shall we.  What is really going on here?  From the looks of it, this could be a man soliciting a young boy, the man has his arm outstretched with what I can only imagine is some sort of hard candy, Wherther’s Originals perhaps?  But the tag line tells us this the story of “an old man and his garden show a tough kid what survival really means”.  Tough kid?  Really?  What makes him tough: his white tee, his K-Swiss (note the 4 stripes), or those single stripe tube socks?  Take your pick.

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t – Judy Blume

Young adult walks into the YA section and wants a Judy Blume book, they pick up this book and think “maybe I’ll check this out”.  They take one look at the cover and think “then again, maybe I won’t”.

Music Collection in the Digital Age

If your library is fortunate enough to have a separate teen music collection then you probably know the pleasures and pitfalls of trying to encompass the youth’s eccentric and eclectic tastes.  Remember when the radio was the only source for new music?  Yeah, me neither.  Here is a list of resources for finding the latest, the greatest, the obscure, avant-garde, and the underground too!

The Hype Machine

This site compiles music uploaded to all sorts of different blogs.  The site is set up like twitter in that the newest music appears on top.  Users can play the full songs from the site and if they become a user (which is free) they can save their favorites.   In the Zeitgeist section you can see what the favorite albums and artists were from the previous year based on user selections.  There is no rhyme or reason to the styles of music they offer, if it’s new and it’s cool, you can probably find it here.

Do you know Pandora (You tell it what music you like and it plays music you ought to like, brilliant)?  This is Pandora on steroids.  By typing in your favorite artists (or rather your teens favorites), pulls together similar artists and you can decide what you think of them.  Other features the site offers are events listings in your area and recommendations based on your radio station choices.  There are also chart listings which reflect the masses (currently the Beatles and Lady Gaga top the chart).  This is one heck of a great site for music discovery.


Want to know what the actual critics think about an album?  Metacritic is your one stop shopping.  The site pulls together reviews from across several different publications and other review sites.  They then translate each critic’s opinion into a number on a 0 to 100 scale.  For instance if Rolling Stone pans an album and gives it a 30 but pitchfork likes it and gives it an 90 then Metacritc would give the album a rating of 60.  The site also links to each of the critics review so you can read them yourself.