Ep. 114: Interview with Graphic Novel Librarian Robin Brenner

Did you know that comics, graphic novels, and manga can (usually) be found at your local library? We talk to American Library Association’s Graphic Novel and Comics Roundtable President Robin Brenner about her history promoting manga in libraries and how you can save a few bucks and enjoy your tax dollars at work at your local library!

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Mangasplaining: Listen to Me! Interview with Robin Brenner, Graphic Novel Librarian
Audio Editing by David Brothers. Show notes by Christopher Woodrow-Butcher and Deb Aoki

In summer of 2023, Christopher and Deb headed to the American Library Association’s Annual Conference (ALA Annual), in sunny Chicago, IL, USA, to exhibit for the first time as Mangasplaining! We handed out manga samplers provided by Kodansha, we did a survey on comics in libraries, and we took the opportunity to interview the ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table President Robin Brenner for the podcast!

Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She chaired the ALA/YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee, was a judge for the 2007 Eisner Awards, and blogs at SLJ’s Good Comics for Kids and Early Word. Her guide Understanding Manga and Anime was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award. Robin has been working with teens as a librarian for over ten years, and she runs two book clubs at the Brookline library: one on teen literature for both teens and adults, and one on graphic novels and comics also for both teens and adults. Robin is the current President of the Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table at the ALA, and the founder of the website No Flying, No Tights, which reviews comics and manga for young readers.

GNCRT Homepage: https://www.ala.org/gncrt

No Flying, No Tights Website: https://noflyingnotights.com/

Show Notes Coming Soon!

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1 Response

  1. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    Thanks for this lovely interview. Wow–the founder of noflyingnotights–a site that for years now I often end up at…

    It’s funny, I have a librarian mother, and practically grew up in libraries (my mom says I learned how to read at a young age because I wanted to be able to use the scrolling electronic catalogue things they had back in the 80s…) and yet, it was never on my radar to look for comics, let alone manga, at libraries. Some of this might just have been my location–when the 2000 manga boom that was mentioned happened, and suddenly titles I wanted to read, like ParaKiss and Mars (loved the shout outs to both) were out, I had moved to Montreal for school and they (at least then) had a pretty nonexistent Anglo library system. (In fact, I read a lot of French manga at the time–which was great as they were putting out things like Kyoko Okazaki…)

    So this was pretty eye opening for me. I do know that my teen niece and nephew both do read a lot of library manga–I just never really put two and two together. A bit of a tangent (from me? Shocking…) but I have heard from others that a problem with some of the very few classic shojo titles we have that people would like to recommend others check out, a barrier has been that they aren’t legally available electronically and buying a volume is an expensive option if you aren’t sure you’ll like it (as you can probably guess I’m specifically talking about the gorgeous Udon Rose of Versailles and Fantagraphics Moto Hagio titles out there…) But if there was the option of checking them out from the library (I mean, c’mon, I’m not about to lend *my* copies out and trust they will remain pristine.)

    Robin also just raises a lot of quick but fascinating thoughts–the way a lot of readers have a learning curve when it comes to even reading manga (I’m wondering if I ever did–but then again I got into it as a teen thanks to flipped Viz titles like Nausicaa and Four Shojo Stories, which may have helped.) Good stuff–really appreciate these interviews.

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