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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chris Ware Building Stories Is Hot Right Now

To the left is a picture of the newest Chris Ware graphic novel, Building Stories.  This picture shows the box and the 14 pieces which make up the story.  Building Stories is the tale of one apartment building and the 14 different families that live in it.  Ware tells each story in 14 distinct booklets, posters, leaflets, etc...

In its complex design, it is a simple story about being human.

A few weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly gave the book an A+.  On Sunday, it was the cover review in the New York Times. Neal Wyatt  featured it as her RA Crossroads in Library Journal this month.

Many libraries have ordered it, especially in the Chicago Area where Ware lives, but very few have figured out a way to catalog and prepare this unique tome for circulation.  Even our neighbor, the Oak Park Public Library, home library to Ware, hasn't gotten it on the shelf yet.

At the BPL we have our copy, sitting in the RA office.  I brought in my personal opened copy of the book for us to root through with our head of Circulation.  I think we have it figured out.  We are going to barcode the box and marked the items 1 of 14, 2 of 14, etc...

This will be one of the best books of the year, but with a list price of $50, people are going to need access to it through the public library.  So my plea to libraries out there is to get over the fact that the book is non-traditional and difficult to catalog.  Get over the fact that pieces might walk off.  Get over your ownership issues about it and your worries about patrons not treating it right.  It is the patrons' book.  You used their tax dollars to buy it.  Get it on the shelf! Let people read it.

Personally, I have been a fan of Ware for many years, but I hope this book and all of the love it is getting across the entire landscape of the book press will expose more people to his genius.  But even more importantly, I hope it will highlight the format of the graphic novel and make it okay for adult readers.

Coincidentally, it is the graphic novel class this week too, so tomorrow you can look for new graphic novel annotations by the students on the class blog.  ARRT is also offering a program which includes information about Graphic Novels on Thursday at the Oak Park Public Library. (It is only $15 and you can still sign-up.)

Finally, don't forget my Graphic Novels for GrownUps list on the Browsers Corner which features another Ware book.

1 comment:

Karen Bar said...

Great piece Becky. Ware's latest work is the perfect storm of popular title meets traditional cataloging hurdles. I'm proud to report Oak Park Public Library had our new copies processed and available on October 10, and they immediately went into the hands of our readers. We tackled this challenge by barcoding the box but did not label or number the individual pieces. We added a label with instruction to hand-deliver to a staff member at a service desk rather than the book return as we do not want this item going through the Automated Materials Handling System. The bibliographic record contains detailed notes of the contents but we do not have any expectation that we will check for pieces each time the item is returned. I don’t have the item in hand right now but we appreciated and enjoyed the descriptive information on the interior of the box that stated "14 individual easily misplaced pieces". Thanks for the encouragement to give good service to our communities. - Karen Bar, Technical Services Manager