Why manga in the library is good for fans.If you borrow stuff from the public library, it adds up to some significant savings. If you read one manga volume a year, you only save about $10. If you read one manga a month, you save $120. If you read stacks of manga (say, five to ten new volumes a month) plus watch some anime box sets (one a month), then you're saving $1,080 to $1,680 a year on buying manga and anime. If you're like me, and you read 2-3 books a week, plus around 4 manga, plus at least one DVD set, it's $8,580 a year in savings.
It's free, folks -- just walk into your local library and get a library card. Even better, you're not taking funding away from the industry you love. You're supporting it.
For those of you who exclaim that your library doesn't have manga, or doesn't have the titles you want to read: There's a very simple solution for that. Ask for it. Go to the library, walk up to the Reference Desk, and tell them how very much you want manga in the library. Give them a list of the top ten titles that you think they should order. Get your friends to do the same. Talk to the Library Director and let them know just how much of an audience there is for manga and anime both. Go to a library Board of Trustees meeting and present your case.
Libraries are built for the communities around them. If you march in there as a local, loyal patron of the library and ask for manga, librarians will get it for you. It's our job. Once it comes in, check it out. Tell your friends to check it out. A collection proves itself by how often it gets checked out, so if you want more manga, the librarians have to see the demand.
I have a quote as my signature on my work email from Catherin Drinker Bowen: "Librarians like to be given trouble; they exist for it, they are geared to it. For the location of a mislaid volume, an uncatalogued item, your good librarian has a ferret’s nose. Give her a scent and she jumps the leash, her eye bright with battle." It's the "eye bright with battle" part I'd like you to remember. We're not a group that you want to anger or misrepresent. Stop trying to defend piracy by referencing libraries. We take copyright and freedom of information very seriously, and we've actually done the research to back ourselves up. We will take you down with the mighty power of all the research at our fingertips and we'll do it faster and more accurately than you can Google.
I have not bought a book in years precisely because I can get almost everything I need at the library, including my manga, comics, and anime. No, I can't get the latest chapter from Japan. You know what? I don't need to. There's plenty out there for me to read.
Robin Brenner is the creator / editor-in-chief of No Flying No Tights and the author of the Eisner Award-nominated book Understanding Manga and Anime. She is also the Reference/Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Brookline, Massachusetts. Robin also regularly writes about and reviews graphic novels for Good Comics for Kids and Early Word.
Want to help your library stock more manga? Robin also wrote 6 tips for getting more manga in your local library. Also, give your friendly neighborhood librarian this list of 50 must-have manga for libraries, as suggested by readers like you.