July 22, 2014 (Helena, MT)—The American Library Association (ALA) and the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation presented the 2014 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant to the Lewis & Clark Library, for their project "Graphically Yours." On hand to receive the award at the ALA 2014 Annual Conference in Las Vegas were Lewis & Clark Library Teen Services Librarian Heather Dickerson and Information Desk Assistant Eric Walliman.
Dickerson and Walliman collaborated on the grant application and are excited about how receiving the grant will impact the Lewis & Clark Library. “Graphically Yours” includes the development of the graphic novel collection and a month-long slate of special graphic novel and comic programs to engage patrons.
Receiving the grant is a huge honor for the Library explains Walliman, “our collection is relatively small but experiences major use; receiving this grant will allow us to expand our collection and offer an even broader selection of graphic novels to our patrons.” Walliman goes on to explain that while the genre is popular with young adults, it has wide spread appeal to multiple audiences, “text books are using the format to address different learning styles; there are studies that indicate that the use of graphic novels for ESL students increases the student’s success with learning the language; and it isn’t a coincidence that the most popular movies are based off of comic books, it’s a format that appeals to all readers and all learners.”
According to Dickerson, the goal of “Graphically Yours” is to celebrate the genre of graphic novels, comics, and manga and encourage a complex form of reading. The grant will allow the two to expand the Lewis & Clark Library’s collection to address demand. “Our graphic novel collection is very popular. One of the special things about this grant is that it includes the whole Will Eisner catalog and this year’s nominees for the Eisner Awards, which identify the best work in the format,” explains Dickerson. “We’re really excited to add more breadth and depth to the collection.”
In addition to buying more materials, the grant also includes funds for programming. Dickerson and Walliman are excited to develop and offer programming for patrons based on the graphic and comic format. “Patrons can look forward to a month of graphic novel related programming, including a ‘Series to Screen’ book discussion where participants will read and discuss the comic book and compare/contrast with the movie,” explains Dickerson.
Dickerson and Walliman are also working on special programs designed to illustrate why graphic novels are so popular and educational. “Tweens and teens who read graphic novels, comics, and manga generally read at least one grade level higher. They also navigate the complex relationship between images and print that is fundamental to the development of digital literacy skills,” explains Dickerson. “It’s pretty exciting to be able to chart new territory at our library, this is a new programming format for us and I think that patrons will enjoy the new offerings,” explains Walliman.
The Lewis & Clark Library was one of two grant recipients of the more than 75 applications received by the ALA. The 2014 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grant was presented to Ypsilanti District Library, Ypsilanti, Mich. Their project "Graphic Novels in Healthcare: An Opportunity for Growth" expands their medical graphic novel collection and offers programs where healthcare professionals and careers learn how graphic novels and comics can help with patient treatment and recovery.
Each of the grants awards the winning libraries with a $2,000 voucher to purchase graphic novels from the distributor-partner—Brodart, $1,000 to host a graphic novel-themed event, and a $1,000 stipend to attend the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Additionally the winners will receive the Will Eisner Library (a graphic novel collection of Will Eisner’s work and biographies about acclaimed writer and artist) and copies of the graphic novels nominated for this year’s Will Eisner Awards at San Diego Comic-Con.
The grants, funded by Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation, are administered by ALA's Games and Gaming Round Table and the Graphic Novels & Comics in Libraries Member Initiative Group.
Jury member John Mack Freeman said, “It was really exciting to see so many innovative ideas coming from such a wide range of libraries. Just like graphic novels themselves, the applications for this grant proved that there is no one size fits all way to incorporate these works into patron communities. We had applications from all over the country and from school, public, and academic libraries. This grant provided a fantastic opportunity for libraries that embrace graphic novels to continue to expand their impact.”
Nancy Gropper of the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation says: "It has been very gratifying to work with the ALA in the development of the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries. Will Eisner spent his lifetime working to prove the value of comic art narrative as a valid literary form and deeply hoped that comics and graphic novels would one day become a part of every library's collection. We thank the many librarians who have helped make these grants possible, those who have applied, and we congratulate the two 2014 winners."
About The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation
The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation fosters innovation and creativity in graphic literature, sequential art and comics. It encourages others to continue and build upon the legacy of Will Eisner, who broke new ground in the development of visual narrative and the language of comics and was the creator of The Spirit, John Law, Lady Luck, Mr. Mystic, Uncle Sam, Blackhawk, Sheena and countless others. For more information about Will Eisner visit www.willeisner.com.
Established in 1876, the American Library Association (ALA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. More information on the grant and the application process can be found on the ALA website.