I focused on graphic novel collections in my response this week!
Both before and during library school I’ve the the good fortune of receiving exposure to graphic novels in such a way as to help me take the genre/format seriously. Prior to beginning library school I heard Art Spiegelman (creator of Maus) give a lecture on the history of comics; during library school, I heard a scholar of graphic novels from Indiana University (whose name, I’m sorry to say, now completely escapes me) discuss the evolution of this particular format as well as its role in libraries. Perhaps because of these educational experiences, I really believe in the importance of improving perspectives on and access to graphic novels.
Offering a variety of programming related to graphic novels and targeted at different patron groups is one way I can see of increasing readership. Putting together one program on the history of comics and graphic novels for adults, one on making your own graphic novel or cartoon art for teens, and playing around with some of the fantastic graphic novels targeted at youth would increase awareness of the format across the board. Partnering with area businesses, like a comic book store or bookstore, to promote Free Comic Day, would be another good programming idea, whether free comics were actually being given out in the library or whether the area partners could simply advertise along the lines of “Looking for more free comics? Check out your library!”
That being said, programming only reaches a certain patron group. How to reach patrons who might never look at a calendar of upcoming library events, but who would perhaps tear through Saga, Ms. Marvel, or any of the other fantastic reads coming out of late? One passive advisory technique that could be extremely effective, should funds allow, would be to have a duplicated collection (or at least, of the most popular graphic novels), which would allow these texts to be shelved in two locations--a discrete graphic novels collection, and one integrated into general fiction/non-fiction. This way, graphic novel enthusiasts could find their reading material all in one place, but those unfamiliar with graphic novels could also simply stumble across graphic novels in the course of their browsing.
Finally, I think being prepared with an articulate response to challenges aimed at individual graphic novels as well as the graphic novel collection as a whole could go a long way. If library staff is prepared as a unified front to respond with a considered, defusing mien to challenges that might be posed, individual patrons will feel heard without necessitating the removal of the graphic novels collection.