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Graphic Novels: More Bang For Your Book

Christian Zabriskie of Queens Public Library discussed “where graphic novels and circulation mesh” today at the Graphic Novel Pavilion, in one of over forty hours of programming devoted to graphic novels at this year’s ALA Annual conference.

“Superbooks:  How Graphics Can Save Your Library” wasn’t a colorful, image-filled presentation on the history of graphics, or a sneak peek at new titles.  Instead, it was a numbers-based case for graphic novels as a solid investment.  Using statistics, graphs, and his own “cost/circ ratio,” Zabriskie demonstrated that the graphic novels in his library’s young adult collection at the Central Library in Jamaica, Queens cost about thirty-eight cents per circulation.

The “cost/circ ratio” is simply the cost of a book divided by the numbers of times it has circulated.   In the Central Library’s young adult collection, graphics had better value for their dollar investment than even high-interest titles such as the Twilight and Harry Potter series.

However, this formula is not meant to be used as a weeding tool.  “Instead of weeding, do some seeding,” Zabriskie suggests.  The high circulation numbers of graphic novels can allow libraries to keep less popular materials without sacrificing circulation statistics.  The classics, for example, may never be circulation blockbusters, but they should be available when patrons need them:  they are “part of our identification as libraries,” notes Zabriskie.

Zabriskie would like to use larger data sets in order to test  his findings’ statistical relevance.  If you would like to contribute similar statistical information from your library, contact him at [email protected]

And, of course, you can also use the numbers you generate as a convincing case for the presence of graphic novels in your collection.

— Lisa Goldstein