The first thing to do is don’t panic, the second thing is DO NOT WITHDRAW THE TITLE! Seriously do not withdraw it – this is important.
If you are the person that selects the Graphic Novel and Manga titles for your branch this is a run-down of how to cover yourself and your library service from complaints by parents, teachers and anyone who may have reason to complain about what their children have been reading.
1. Know your stock – you should personally have held and looked at every Graphic Novel and Manga item in your library. This will only take a few minutes, unless you have a large collection and need to go through everything, but once that is done all you have to do is grab every new title as it comes in. You do not have to read everything (but you can if you want to) leaf through the pages and look for any nudity, extreme violence or swearing. If you cannot find any then your collection is not doing its job.
2. When you find books that have swearing, violence or nudity make sure that is has a guidance label (Teen/YA, Adult Stock, or GN) on the spine. Most manga titles have age banding on the back cover, these vary from publisher to publisher but they are prominent.
3. Do not keep your Manga and GN collection in the Children’s Library, Have it between the Adult & Teen collections (if you do not have a Teen Collection you should start thinking about one). There are exceptions – a number of libraries keep The Simpsons, Tokyopop’s Cine-Manga and the Alex Rider GN’s in their Picture Books for older Readers collections.
4. Double-check the labels of the books, it is possible for some to creep through.
5. Start reading manga – this will help with stock development knowledge, suggesting titles to readers etc
6. Get to know the readers themselves – they know more than you do and are usually more than happy to suggest titles or discuss genres and series.
7. Get to know your local comic shop as above they should know what they are selling, be able to suggest stock and also (importantly) give a discount
If anyone has advice on preempting complaints or has dealt with a sticky situation and would like to share it please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.