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Camille Ryckman's picture

Graphic Novels - How to catalog Graphic Novels

Working on an assignment for a class.  I am curious how others catalog and shelve graphic novels.  I am working at a K-8 as a teacher librarian and we have a collection that spans, content wise, from innocent to vivid.  I am wanting to honor Ranganathan by getting the right book to the right reader so I am not sure where is best.  What do you think?

"Remember, this is a format that embodies a wide range of material already being collected in school libraries, from biographies and other nonfiction, to adventure, fantasy, science fiction, contemporary realism, and historical fiction. Viewing the professional literature alongside the display, colleagues will begin to think about how they can capitalize on students' interest in graphic novels to further curricular goals related to visual literacy, media criticism, and nontextual information, as well as their potential for use with nontraditional learners, including students with some types of cognitive disabilities and those learning English."


Rudiger, H. M., & Schliesman, M. (2007). Graphic novels and school libraries. Knowledge Quest, 36(2), 57-59. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.bianca.penlib.du.edu/docview/194730792?acco...

Thanks for your responses. 



Gretchen King (non-member)'s picture

I work for a Pre-K through 8 and all our graphic novels are cataloged 741.5.  I haven't seen any exceptions.  We order mostly through Follett and pay for the additional processing and they are always cataloged that way.  Mind you, our graphic novels are pretty tame - Big Nate, The Adventures of Tin Tin, the Red Pyramid, Earthling, etc.


Hope this helps.

Haley Walters's picture

I'm a high school librarian. I immediately noticed at my last school that the graphic novels, anime, manga, etc. were badly buried deep in the 740s NF area of the library (which was rarely used). I noticed kids looking and asking for them, so I just pulled all of those books and put them on a separate display cart, front and center in the library. This was a big hit, as my most frequent library users were readers of this genre.  I also ordered classification labels for these books and marked them on their spines as Graphic Novel, Anime/Manga so they wouldn't get mis-shelved in the library. 

At my present library, I took all graphic novels, anime, manga and moved them to their own location as well (away from the herd of the 740s art books) and have them organized by series, author, etc. The kids automatically zoom to this area and can quickly get books between classes.

The books are still catalogued as the 740s (we use shelf-ready processing and cataloguing) , but they are not in that location. 

In both school libraries this has been a big success. Books that otherwise would not have checked out or been hard to shelve and find are in constant circulation and are the "star" of the library. Last year, I even ordered a couple of lounge chairs and created a "reading nook" for the graphic novel area of my library. Everyone has been a big fan of this endeavor.

Dejon Beck (non-member)'s picture

Please forgive me as I don't have the system memorized yet. The 740s are primarily art books? Did you provide a reading nook for any other genres?

Samantha Specht (non-member)'s picture

I am a new 7-12 Librarian and I just recently pulled our graphic novels out of Dewey and gave them their own area. I catalog them similarly to fiction (GN OTT) and non-fiction (GN 940 JAB). The only ones that I have had trouble cataloging are biographies.

I've found that not only do the students browse and check out the graphic novels more, but it made it easier to catalog the non-fiction graphic novels and separate them from the story graphic novels. I feel like this will also help me know what topics I have in graphic novel form vs. having to remember or just stumbling across is during a search (think Nathan Hales Hazardous Tales). So far I'm really happy with my decision to pull the graphic novels out. Haven't found a downside yet!

Mirele Kessous (non-member)'s picture

We also put our graphic novels in a separate section.  If the graphic novel is nonfiction, I use 741.5 or B (for biography), and those non-fiction graphic novels are grouped together.
 Graphic novels that are fiction are cataloged F plus 3 letters of the author's last name, and they are housed on a different shelf.  But the whole graphic novel section is separate from both our nonfiction and fiction sections, making it a pleasure for our
students to browse.

Mirele Kessous
Upper School Librarian
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
Rockville, MD 20852

From: ALA Connect [connect@ala.org]

Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 8:41 AM

To: Mirele Kessous

Subject: [ALA Connect] AASL (The American Association of School Librarians) - GraphicNovels - How to catalog Graphic Novels (New comment)

Mirele Kessous

Upper School Librarian

Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

11710 Hunters Lane

Rockville, MD 20852



Hilda Weisburg's picture

I dislike putting graphic nonfiction (or graphic novels) in 741.2. If you put graphic novels on a separate shelf  I would use GN and FIC with author letters for fiction and GN plus Dewey number and author letters for graphic nonfiction.  If you integrate Graphic Novels into Fiction (with a "subject heading"  them  in the record), I would do the same for graphic nonfiction.On T

Nancy Dickinson's picture

I just put them in with the fiction. Or the correct Dewey number for the nonfiction ones. It's just another format. I don't have a separate place for novels in verse. I don't separate my graphic novels. We still find them...

Nancy Dickinson, Librarian
Hillsboro ES
284 Winchester Hwy.
Hillsboro, TN 37342

Kim Herrington (non-member)'s picture

Prior to this year, I was at a 7-8 grade campus for the past seven years. After six years of constantly shifting books to make room for the growing numbers of books cataloged with 741.5 and seeing other graphic books, cataloged in various Dewey sections and fiction, not getting check out much at all, I decided to create a special section just for graphic books--fiction and nonfiction.  For the spine labels I used GN plus the first three letters of the authors last name.  My students loved it as did my Reading teachers. It just made it easier to find the graphic books of all types.  The circulation for books that had not been cataloged with 741.5 skyrocketed. 

My current campus is a college & career high school that opened last year with a small collection but without a librarian.  The graphic novels are all cataloged as 741.5 and various Dewey sections. The 741.5 books are in a separate section away from the rest of the Dewey sections, which kind of drives the linear me crazy, but it works for the layout of this library.  

Andrea Sporre's picture

Collection is GN following by 741.5 and author.  Ex. GN 741.5 HAL

Giving them a special collection along with a clever seating arrangement will foster great discussion amongst the kids...they will love it and so will you!

Terri Grief's picture

We created an area in our library with graphic novels. We have all the fiction ones labeled as GN F and author's first three letters. The non fiction are GN Dewey number and then the author. It has helped our kids find the books!


Terri Grief

Dorcas Hand's picture

The only books I have left in 741 are the true comics, the Marvel/DC/etc kind. All others in graphic formats I give the correct Dewey number, or Fiction or Biography - with a graphic subject heading. AND I put a red "Graphic Novel" sticker on the spine, a DEMCO genre standard. And then we shelve them altogether in Dewey order. Our kids are able to find what they want, and they remain aware of the logic of Dewey - chasing topics as needed back to the regular books. This combination of systems works for us.

Dorcas Hand

Annunciation Orthodox School

Houston TX

Dorcas Hand
School Library Advocate
ALA Council Member-at-Large

Ellen Wickham's picture

Good morning all -

I'm in a 9-12 high school with a number of low level readers who flock to graphic novels.  We have all of the fiction graphic novels in 741.5.  Non fiction and bio are cataloged in their respective Dewey numbers.   We do, however, put a small red dot on every graphic novel and it has been very well received by the students. Originally, every graphic novel was labeled GN before the call number and it wasn't as useful to our students.   

Lisa A. Williams's picture

I work in a K-5 and I am getting ready to move mine into the fiction section unless they are truly about a non-fiction subject or are a biography.  I find that students don't look in the non-fiction section when they are wanting a graphic novel. 



Lynn Gordon's picture

I am in a K-5 building with a regular non-fiction section and an easy non-fiction section.  I have graphics shelved at 741.5 in both sections.  I also have some shelved at their appropriate Dewey number if they are true non-fiction, as well as few in the fiction section.  They ALL have an orange label protector to make them stand out throughout the room.

Heather Novotny's picture

I'm a librarian in a K-8 school as well, it's a new position for me, I was previously a youth services librarian in a public library. I've worked at my school for two months.

Graphic novels are red hot in my library. I shared your concern about helping these books find their right audience. When I arrived, all graphic works were categorized as GN with three letters for the author's last name, and housed in a dedicated  shelf at the end of the YA collection. Fiction and non-fiction were interfiled. My stats and my observation of the students' preferences taught me that this collection should be about two to three times as many books, which means it will need more shelf space very quickly. Also, housing all the graphic works in the teen area was giving the students the impression that all the cool books were in the teen area. I had the same range of works you describe, from Pets On The Loose to Persepolis.

After reflecting on categorization used by both our local library systems, I decided to recatalog all the works. I created two new i-types, YGN and JGN, and am discontinuing use of GN. To decide how to categorize J or Y, I referenced both local library systems. That was very useful.

I wasn't going to address the interfiling of the graphic non-fiction, but when I was pulling the books for the reclass, I became aware of how many there actually were in the collection. I had a lot of J history and J biographies, and several Ys as well, in addition to all the Nathan Hale's Dangerous Tales that I'd just purchased, so I went ahead and assigned them all Dewey numbers.

Here's what I ended up with: graphic fiction is JGN or YGN, followed by three letters for the author's last name. Non-fiction is JGN or YGN with a Dewey number and three letters for the author's last name. For biographies, I went with a derivation of the convention used in the school, and ended up with a three line call number: JGN, J92, Presley. Although our local public library catalogs comic works like Calvin and Hobbes as 741, they were already GNs so I left them there.

I had to go in on a Saturday to do it in order to keep the collection accessible to the students. I am happy with it, and consider it time well spent.

Now, I just have to weed out a bunch of dead JFs, and physically separate the collections.


Jodie Klein (non-member)'s picture

Hi There,

I am in a 1-5 Elementary Library setting and I catalog my Graphic Novels as 741.5.  I have found that it is much easier for students to find the books they are looking for.  This is one of my most popular sections of the library.  I am trying to keep up with the demand.  Does anyone have any good suggestions for popular elementary graphic novel sets?  Right now, my most popular are the DC Super pets and Big Nate books.  Any suggestions would be great as I look at ordering for next year!  THANK YOU in advance!