Batman is Everywhere (A look at the Library’s Graphic Novel Collection)

Did you know that BCPL has 4800 graphic novel titles? Since this year’s theme for Summer Reading is “What’s your Superpower?”  I wanted to talk a little about our graphic novel collections and of course Batman.

What is a Graphic Novel?
Merriam -Webster defines graphic novels as “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.” This is a good start for understanding what graphic novels are, but it’s not entirely accurate since there are many biographies, memoirs and nonfiction graphic novels now. It is more accurate to think of “graphic novel” as a format like a DVD or book or CD – how you are presented with the information – rather than what the information is like fiction, non-fiction, mystery …etc. Some graphic novels contain a story arc of a comic book series that was originally published as several issues, while others were written as one complete book-length piece but both are graphic novels.

 Defining the “Graphic” in Graphic Novel
“Graphic” has become a term that is used in other media to mean violent or explicit content but that is not part of its definition here. Don’t get me wrong, there are graphic novels that have explicit content and a great deal of violence but they do not define the format as a whole. The “graphic” in graphic novel means that the story is depicted graphically – with pictures. It is not an indication of the content of those pictures or the story they tell. The Peanuts are graphic, Bone is graphic, and so are The Walking Dead, Maus and 300.

Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah …Batman!
Just like with books and movies, the graphic novel (GN), teen graphic novel (GN TEEN) and children’s graphic novel (GN J) collections are determined by the audience that they were written for and are located in the sections for that audience in our buildings. This is the primary reason that Batman is everywhere.  The Caped Crusader (among a great many other characters) is popular among all age groups, and there are over 160 graphic novels featuring the Dark Knight in our three collections.

The children’s collection has the Batman Adventures and Batman: The Brave and the Bold which are artistically based on the two cartoon shows that share their names.


The teen collection has several of the mainstream Batman titles including the New 52 Batman and Batman and Robin.


The graphic novel collection has the darker Batman titles that have more mature content like Batman: Detective Comics, Batman: The Dark Knight, and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

To put it in a scale most people are familiar with, a GN J graphic novel would have similar content to a G or PG movie, GN TEEN would be upper PG to PG-13, and GN would be upper PG-13 to R. Publishers, like DC Comics and Marvel, are eager to gain and maintain lifelong fans and they are developing content for all ages so that everyone can enjoy their characters.


Visual literacy -Why Graphic Novels are good for your brain
Graphic novels are an amazing tool to promote visual literacy, a 21st century skill defined by the Institute of Museum and library services as “Demonstrate the ability to interpret, recognize, appreciate, and understand information presented through visible actions, objects and symbols, natural or man-made.” Visual Literacy is a vital skill as advancing technology changes the way we are presented with information from traditional print to infographics and interactive sources. Graphic novels train your brain to merge both words and images to get the full story, building a skill set that can then be applied to other visual information sources.

With so many to choose from I hope you will give graphic novels a try, there is one out there that will match your interests. I’d be happy to recommend some to you (I promise they will not all be Batman) and I can be reached at or at Main Library


Katie Widener, a Burlington native, attended U of L and UK before becoming a Reference Librarian at Main Library in 2011.  She is the adult graphic novel collection selector for BCPL and is only slightly less obsessed with Batman than the Joker.  In fact, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) being a librarian for Gotham City Public Library was one of the things that inspired her to become a librarian.

We have thousands of video games for checkout at the Library!

With the new movie Pixels coming out on July 24th in theaters, we thought iMan and young boy with video game controllers smilingt would be a great time to let you know that we have thousands of video games for checkout at the library.  We have games for the most recent consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS. We also have games for these slightly older (but still great!) consoles: Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation 3. If you still love your PlayStation 2, we have games for it, too. If you like PC games, we have some games for checkout, but newer games for PC are sold mostly through online services like Steam.

For each library card, up to five video games can be checked out for three weeks and renewed two times as long as no one else is waiting. Games that are rated “M” for mature may only be checked out on an adult’s library card. Is there a video game you’d really like to play, but we don’t have it? Ask us to buy it! Go to Recommend a Purchase and we might buy it for you to borrow. Please remember we don’t buy online and multiplayer-only games or games that require an online account.

I’m sure you’ve heard that video games can be bad for you, but scientists are also arguing for the benefits of playing video games. From the Huffington Post article, 9 Ways Video Games Can Actually Be Good For You, scientists find that gaming can help increase the “areas of the brain responsible for spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning and fine motor skills in the hands.” Further, playing video games can improve the “ability to discern subtle changes in the brightness of an image.” This means gaming can actually improve your eyesight. A third way video games can be beneficial is to treat depression. A group of children assigned to play a specially-designed game had a 44% complete recovery rate versus only 26% that had traditional one-on-one counseling.

In addition to having video games for check out. We also have numerous programs with video games. Always check our monthly newsletter, Discover BCPL, to catch what’s coming.

For children, we have an Android tablet with games appropriate for children that can be played while you’re visiting the Main library in the Youth Services 2nd floor area.

For teens, we have several recurring events:

Teen Cafe (Middle/High School)
Wednesdays at 3:15-4:45 p.m.
Drop in for gaming, Internet, snacks & more! Xbox 360, WiiU, NES, and PCs are available. The teens are currently playing Super Smash Bros. for WiiU almost exclusively. Also, Minecraft computers are set up during this time.

Teen Night (Middle/High School)
Last Friday of the Month from 6-8 p.m.
Want to hang out after the library closes? Now is your chance! Pizza, games & more! Xbox 360, WiiU, NES, and PCs are all made available — most of them play Super Smash Bros. for a good majority of the night. Also, Minecraft computers are available.

Teen Gaming: Super Smash Bros. for WiiU (Middle/High School)
Thursday, September 17, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Come and test your might against other Super Smash Bros. fans in a double elimination, no items tournament. Sign-in at 5:30, matches start at 6 p.m. Registration required. If you just like to watch Nintendo characters fight it out, you’re welcome to come watch!

Teen Gaming (Middle/High School)
Wednesdays from 4-5:30 p.m.
This starts again in September when school is back in session. Drop in for gaming, snacks & more! Enjoy Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii, and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe on the Xbox 360.

Pokemon (grades K-12)
4th Monday of the Month from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Gotta catch ’em all! Bring your own deck or Nintendo DS; no trading. English cards only. Registration encouraged. Many teens bring their DS making this a great program for gamers.

Oh, and, by the way, if you really like the Pixels movie, here’s some of the games that have the video game characters that show up there:

Pac-man and the Ghostly Adventures for many consoles

Namco Museum DS (has Galaga and Pac-man)

Donkey Kong Country series for Nintendo consoles (Did you know Donkey Kong has his own children’s movies?)

Midway Arcade Origins (has Joust; also Joust 2 for the completionist)

Centipede Infestation for 3DS


David Birkhead fixes computers at the library. David began playing video games when there was an entire console you hooked to your television just to play Pong. His video gaming dream is to one day get a perfect score in Pitfall II: Lost Caverns for the Atari 2600.