Maximizing the Impact of Comics in Your Library
Graphic Novels, Manga, and More
by Jack Phoenix
March 2020, 248pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-6885-6
$55, £41, 48€, A75
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6886-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Learn how to better manage your comics collection to boost interest and circulation.

This unique guide offers fresh insights on how graphic novels and comics differ from traditional books and require different treatment in the library—from purchasing, shelving, and cataloging to readers' advisory services, programs, and curriculum.

Challenging librarians to rethink some of their traditional practices, Maximizing the Impact of Comics in Your Library provides creative and proven solutions for libraries of all types that want to get comics into the hands of fans and promote readership. The author describes how libraries would benefit from an in-house classification system and organization that accounts for both publishers and series.

In addition, acquiring comics can often be tricky due to renumbering of series, reboots, shifting creative teams, and more—this book shows you how to work around those obstacles. Shelving and displays that reflect comic readers’ browsing habits, creative programs that boost circulation of comics and graphic novels, and how comics can play a vital role in educational institutions are also covered.


  • Addresses common challenges librarians face with comics and graphic novels collections and shows how to surmount them
  • Offers a solutions-focused approach
  • Describes how comics can be used to better engage your community and to educate youth
  • Fills a gap in the professional literature, covering topics not touched upon in the existing literature
  • Serves as a vital resource for public, academic, and school libraries
Jack Phoenix is a librarian and writer in the Greater Cleveland area. He has worked in or with public libraries for more than a decade in various capacities. An active member of the American Library Association, the Ohio Library Council, and the Comics Studies Society, he has presented at professional conferences on topics such as comics organization and self-published works in libraries. He is also author of The Tormentors.


"Marrying in-depth knowledge of comics and libraries, Phoenix has produced a practical, user-friendly read that's an essential book for school and public librarians."—School Library Journal Starred Review, August 7, 2020

"Highly recommended."—Choice, March 1, 2021

Most libraries will appreciate the author’s positive and practical approach to incorporating and promoting comics in public and school libraries.—Booklist Online, May 3, 2021

"There are many lessons to be found here for academic libraries and other libraries that collect, or may collect, comics. This is an excellent resource for all libraries that are interested in creating or expanding their comics collections."—Technical Services Quarterly, January 28, 2021

"Jack Phoenix’s Maximizing the Impact of Comics in Your Library is a must-read for both newcomers and longtime collectors of comics in libraries. Phoenix succinctly reviews the history of comic books and recounts their sometimes controversial history in libraries before moving on to the practical considerations of building a library comics collection. Phoenix provides best practices and suggestions for selecting and acquiring comics, cataloging and shelving them to maximize discoverability, planning comics-themed programming, and integrating comics into the school and academic curriculum. As a longtime reader of comics who also manages a growing comics collection, I found Phoenix’s book to be entertaining, insightful, and essential." —Joel Tonyan, Assistant Professor, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

"If you work at a library and are interested in comics, either as a newcomer or a true-believing fan, this book is your Rosetta Stone. In a friendly, methodical way, Phoenix guides us step-by-step across the entire multiverse of comics —what they are, who makes them, and, most importantly, how best to get them to the patrons who want them—even if they don't know it yet. Like every good teacher, Phoenix knows that there are no bad questions, so he simply answers all of them. With spotlights and insightful asides from an impressive number of comics celebrities, artists, librarians, and professionals, the book gives a real behind-the-scenes view of how the magic of comics of all stripes and sizes can especially flourish in libraries. Most importantly, Phoenix's discussion crests above the usual ‘should we or shouldn't we’ argument to offer real practical advice through success stories (and some failures) to show how to best reach readers where their interests lie. Phoenix's book offers a remarkable new taxonomy of the medium for seasoned fans, but is also an easy-to-follow primer for those who are new to comics, covering everything from basic questions to tips on how best to catalog comics so that people can find them. Phoenix even tells you how to host your own comics convention! Written more as a fascinating conversation over a cup of coffee than an academic treatise, Maximizing the Impact of Comics in Your Library is a must-have toolkit for librarians interested in strengthening their use of this massively popular medium. In the end, Phoenix's argument is impossible to dismiss, no matter what your level of geekdom: 'If you want to maximize comics in your library, it's important to understand them.' Highly recommended."—Brad Ricca, Author of Super Boys and Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

"Look, at this point only the most misguided in our field do not think comics should be in libraries, but there are still some very real hurdles to easily acquiring and utilizing the format within a library setting. This is Phoenix’s focus, the practical information all library workers need in order to understand the breadth and history of the format while also imparting excellent advice on how to craft and implement a vibrant, useful, and engaging collection. From defining basic terminology to addressing cataloging and accessibility issues, from programing ideas to how best to use comics in schools or even as professional development, this is a must-purchase for all school and public libraries. It is a book you need to have at your disposal to help you navigate the vast comic landscape and to educate those who have yet to see the comics light. An extra bonus is Phoenix’s engaging voice. He shares his knowledge and in-depth research in a manner that invites readers in to learn without ever talking down to them. That alone is worth the price of admission."—Becky Spratford, Readers’ Advisory Specialist, RA for All
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