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Archive for Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Libraries use comics to entice young readers

September 2, 2003

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— Once snubbed by critics as junk literature, comic books are making their way into libraries in Kansas City and other cities in growing numbers.

Librarians are hoping the graphic novels -- similar to comic books, but longer -- will attract younger readers. Graphic novels offer original book-length stories or collect old issues of ongoing comic-book series. Subject material can range from tales of super heroes chasing villains to murder-mysteries to nonfiction. One, called Clan Apis, is a fact-based story of life in a beehive.

Requests from readers has driven the purchase of more graphic novels for the Kansas City Public Library over the past two years, said Susan Wray, a library employee who helps buy new books.

"There's a greater demand," Wray said. "There are more of them being published now."

The Mid-Continent and Johnson County library systems said they also had spent more money on graphic novels over the last year or two, and put them on more prominent display.

Wray said comics and graphic novels are seen as a way to attract readers in their teens and 20s because they are quicker to read and less intimidating than other books.

"We're a very visual society," said Kenneth Martin, a technical assistant at the city's Northeast library branch. Comic books, he said, could be a way for libraries to compete with video games and other kinds of entertainment.

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