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Cataloging Graphic Novels
Descriptive Cataloging | Children’s and Young Adults’ Cataloging Program (CYAC)
What is a graphic novel?
Graphic novels, despite the name, can be for any age level and include some picture books as well as true novels. They are narratives in which the text and illustrations are equally important to the conveyance of the story. Many graphic novels resemble comic books in style, but they are generally hard-bound or in soft bindings that are sturdier than comic book covers. Speech balloons usually show when a character is speaking, and that is one clue that a book for early readers is a graphic novel rather than a simple picture book.
Another way in which the name is misleading is that the stories in graphic novels can be fiction, nonfiction, or a combination of the two. The CYAC Program at LC catalogs only fictional graphic novels, intended for young people from preschool through age fifteen or ninth grade.
Does the Library of Congress collect graphic novels?
Yes, LC has collected and cataloged graphic novels since their first appearance on the literary scene. Until recently, all fictional graphic novels were classified in the Library of Congress Classification schedules in the span PN6700-6790 with comic books, strips, etc. When the CYAC Program began to catalog them, a new classification number, PZ7.7, was established for children’s graphic novels.
What subject headings are used for juvenile graphic novels?
Each graphic novel cataloged by the CYAC Program will have, as its first subject heading, Graphic novels. Following that, there may be topical headings. The final heading will be the genre/form heading, Graphic novels. So the subject heading array for a graphic novel in which a cat and mouse share an adventure might be:
650 #1 $a Graphic novels. 650 #1 $a Cats $v Fiction. 650 #1 $a Mice $v Fiction. 650 #1 $a Adventure and adventurers $v Fiction. 655 #0 $a Graphic novels.
Are there other differences in cataloging graphic novels?
Illustrators and artists are very important for all juvenile materials, but especially for graphic novels, as detailed in the Illustrator Additional Access Points document. CYAC catalogers always include in the title field the complete statement of responsibility which lists all authors, illustrators, inkers, letterers, and colorists that appear on the title page (considering each of the above-listed tasks as separate functions).
Similarly, we make additional access points for authors and illustrators, including cover artists, but rarely more than three for any one category—up to three authors, three illustrators, etc. Some contributors listed in the title field, such as inkers and letterers, may not receive an access point but are still retrievable through key word searching.