little library moments

February 12, 2006 at 9:17 pm 4 comments

A kid was in the store on Saturday buying some graphic novels – Bone and Naruto – and didn’t have enough money on him so had to put Naruto back.  I was forcibly restraining myself from telling him to just buy the whole Bone series in one volume.  It’s cheaper and (I think) better in black and white.  Halfway through my internal monologue about not being Scary Cashier Lady, I overheard him tell his sister that they didn’t have Naruto at the library.  Scary Cashier Lady jumped to the fore and said, “Of course they have Naruto at the library!”  His answer?  “No they don’t – I checked the shelf for it and it wasn’t there.”  arg.  This led to me explaining that the “good” manga will never be on the shelf, because it’s always signed out.  Check the catalogue!  It’ll be there and you can put a hold on it.  I’m not sure how much of that sunk in, but jeez.  He was at least twelve years old.  I was kind of sad that he didn’t know to check the catalogue for books he wants to read.  Hopefully he remembers my advice next time he goes in to the library (or ASKS!).

Of course, it’s not the easiest thing to find random manga in the public library here.  When they first started really acquiring some of the new stuff a few years ago it was next to impossible to find.  I’d have to do searches on individual titles I knew and follow the subject links to try to find series that weren’t coming immediately to mind or that I wouldn’t think to search for.  Subjects were inconsistant and even searching for Tokyopop or Viz wasn’t pulling everything up in their holdings (or even all of the volumes held for one title).

You can’t, btw, realistically do a search for “graphic novels” in the TPL catalogue.  There are almost 1800 results and there’s no way in hell I’m wading through that many pages.  The list is (was? they recently updated the opac) too large to sort from within the library at an opac by date or title, and unfortunately there are a lot of gn’s that are only available in the Merrill Collection and can’t be borrowed.  8/10 times that would be the title I’d click on to put on hold.  It got frustrating to the point where I didn’t bother to look for gn’s in the library anymore.  (They’ve started showing up on the new book lists, which helps.  Of course, it’s the teen new book list…)  I asked a librarian once about weeding the Merrill Collection from my search results and he couldn’t get a search strategy that accomplished that.  I might ask again now that the new opac is up.

Lately there’s been some improvement in the catalogue records compared to a couple of years ago.  I still wish that they would do one simple thing when cataloguing Japanese graphic novels:  use the word “manga” somewhere in the record.  It seems reasonable.  That’s the name of that type of gn.  If you do a keyword search for “manga,” it only pulls up 23 actual manga titles (of the 117 titles in the search results), and those because the word “manga” is somewhere in the publishers name.  It looks like they’ve started using “Graphic Novels – Japan” as a subject more often (108 titles right now – it seems to be mostly Viz titles from what I can tell), but unless they’re planning on going back and fixing older records it’s not going to help much. 

Okay, my library moment has turned into a bit of a bitch session.  Sorry.  I guess it’s just frustrating.  I’m not exactly dependant on the library for my manga (thank goodness – I completely lack that sort of patience!) but I have gotten the occasional title that I’d been curious about but didn’t want to buy.  I’d be nice to have an easy, simple way to search for the manga available without having to run 5 or 6 different searches to try to catch all of the ways it’s been catalogued.  And while I’m bitching anyway, who decided that Grave of the Fireflies was a children’s movie?

As a fellow library worker, I understand that there are a lot of different people doing the cataloguing and until fairly recently I doubt there was much concern about trying to understand the differences between “regular” graphic novels and manga and reflecting that in the catalogue.  I will say it is slowly improving.  As a patron, writing from Planet Me located squarely in the Center of the Universe, I just want to be able to find some manga at the library without jumping through hoops or begging for help.

To circle back to the original point of the post, which was (I guess) pimping the library at the store, here’s an exchange I have with customers on a regular basis:

Customer: Do you have a preview copy of this exercise dvd?  Can I see it before I buy it?
Me: Sorry, no.  We don’t have anything like that here.
Customer: But how do I know I’ll like it?  Can I bring it back if it’s no good?
Me: Um, once it’s open you have to keep it.  Check the library.  They have a lot of exercise dvds and they might have that one.  If not, you might find another one you like.  Then you’ll know which ones you like and what you’d like to buy.
Shocked Customer:  Really? The library?  They actually have exercise dvds at the library?
Me: Yeah.
Customer: Wow, I didn’t know that.  Thanks.  I’ll try that.

Yes, those are my high pressure sales techniques.  heh.  I figure if they weren’t going to buy anything anyway maybe this way they’ll come back once they know for sure what they want.  Plus, I won’t have to deal with them coming back a few days later trying to return a dvd they don’t like and I can’t take back.  People are usually surprised to find out that the library also has a lot of instructional dance dvds, which can be hard to find in stores.  There’s less enthusiasm about borrowing those ones, for some reason.  I guess people figure they’ll need more than a week to learn to dance.   


Entry filed under: library stuff.

Supernatural – too hot for words Kamikaze Girls

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. melrose plant  |  February 13, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    I found you ! I found you ! I found you


  • 2. cathy  |  February 13, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Gah! Welcome! You’re so clever! And the first post you get to read is me whining about the library…

  • 3. TangognaT » manga news round-up  |  February 14, 2006 at 12:39 am

    […] Love Manga on the recent Tokyopop distribution article that appeared in the New York Times New Flipped column gives some love to Ai Yazawa titles Nana and Paradise Kiss Manga Blog comments on the AnimeonDVD best manga awards Over at It Can’t All be about Manga, some comments on searching for manga in library catalogs Dave read some manga during the recent snowstorm or did he?!! […]

  • 4. melrose plant (aka duck )  |  February 13, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    Your presence is pressie enough at any party darling duck!


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