The library is getting graphic

By Billy Tuite —

Comic fans rejoice! After making a selection of video games available to students last year, the Robert S. Swanson Learning Center has added yet another medium to its extensive catalog: comic books and graphic novels.

The Comic and Graphic Novel Collection came about as a joint effort between Collection Development Librarian Cory Mitchell and Entertainment Design Assistant Professor Dr. Ursula Murray Husted. The collection was established to support the Comics and Sequential Art concentration of the Entertainment Design program here at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

“Comics is a fairly new concentration, as the Entertainment Design program was just established in 2012,” Husted said. “Due to this new major, it made a lot of sense to start a new collection at the library.”

After the library received numerous requests from students to have more graphic novels, Mitchell and Husted felt the need to fill this void in the library’s collection and make it unique.

“Professor Husted and I thought it was important to develop a ‘stand-alone’ collection,” Mitchell explained. “Previously, the comic books and graphic novels in the library were spread out and located in several different collections, making them somewhat difficult to locate.”

The new collection currently consists of over 400 volumes, which range from popular comic books like “Spider-Man” and “The Walking Dead” to more obscure, heartfelt works like Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home.” These graphic novels were selected based on a variety of criteria.

“We’ve selected our graphic novels based on award winners, broad coverage, important or noteworthy titles, popular titles, recommendations and innovative examples of the art form,” Mitchell said.

The collection won’t stop there since the library has a long-term plan for expanding the collection over the years. “We plan to grow this collection rapidly, as we expect to add 500 additional titles each year,” Mitchell said.

The library also collects student-created works, including the 2013 UW–Stout Comics project “Clogging Up the Gutters.”

“One of the things I look most forward to is when my students graduate and begin to produce their own works. Their works are going to go directly into the collection,” discussed Husted.

With such a large collection, Mitchell and Husted want to show all students, not just Entertainment Design students, that graphic novels are more than just recreational pastimes and can serve an educational purpose for a variety of disciplines.

“Comics are going to save the world,” Husted boldly claimed. “Pictures are a universal language and comics are a sophisticated way of getting information across, in both fictional and nonfictional forms.”

“The library’s collections are developed to support the information needs of UW–Stout students, faculty and staff,” Mitchell added. “We think the development of this collection helps, at least in part, to accomplish that goal.”

The Comic and Graphic Novel Collection is located on the 4th floor of the University Library. If you have any requests for other visual works to be added to the collection, contact Cory Mitchell at mitchellc@uwstout.edu.

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