In 2008, Bobst began collecting graphic novels and comics under the leadership of librarians John Tofanelli and Chad Curtis. Though the library housed a small number of works before, the now-extensive collection allows students to take a punchy, artistic approach to any academic pursuit.
“I use Graphic Novel Reporter, the New York Times book reviews, and a number of other review sources to identify graphic novels that are likely candidates to be added to the collection,” said Laurie Murphy, Reference Associate for the Social Sciences and Humanities Reference Center at Bobst. “The various lists of award winners and nominees are another useful tool to identify material for the collection; the Eisner/Harvey awards, the Kirby awards, and the Ignatz awards to name a few.”
Given the huge volume of comics and graphic novels published every year, some worthy works will slip past unnoticed. For this reason, Murphy emphasized the value of receiving “requests for specific titles by professors and scholars. That way I can be sure the collection reflects the scholarship needs of the NYU community.” Once the library acquires a new graphic novel or comic, the text is given a special library binding, and its cover art is preserved. Afterward, it is catalogued and shelved for students and faculty to check out.
Study of these works isn’t limited to literature or art classes. Murphy noted that “there are History, Performance Studies, Critical Thinking, and Area Studies classes all using graphic novels this semester.” Graphic novels and comics might just be the next big trend in academia. According to Murphy, the study of these kinds of texts “seems to be taken more seriously now than it possibly was in the past. The activity on the ComicScholars listserve and the number of conferences and calls for papers posted there really demonstrate how much the field is growing.”
Want to know more about the collection? This finding guide describes how to locate graphic novels and comics in Bobst, how to cite them, where to find scholarly reviews and criticism, and even what related events are happening around the city. With finals only four weeks away, checking out this extensive collection of graphic novels and comics may be the perfect way to get a headstart.
“If you budget time for research in advance, you’ll have more time to explore your topic and request materials from other locations through interlibrary loan,” said Amanda Watson, Bobst’s English and Dramatic Literature subject librarian. Starting early and reading a few graphic novels can pay off later when you’re trying to give a final essay that perfect, creative spin.