Libraries in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Columbia, South Carolina, were recently chosen as the winners of the 2016 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries, funded by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation and administered by the American Library Association. Each library will receive $2,000 to develop its graphic novel collections, $1,000 to host a graphic novel-themed event, $1,000 for staff to attend next month’s ALA Annual Conference, a collection of books by and about Will Eisner, and copies of all the graphic novels nominated for this year’s Will Eisner Awards.
The Growth Grant, which annually goes to a library looking to expand its existing graphic novels and programs, was awarded to the Atlantic City Free Public Library. According to a press release from ALA, the library will use the grant to partner with the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention “to present workshops for young people designed to foster creativity and promote literacy as well as a discussion program for adults and older teens on the history of black comic characters and creators.”
The Innovation Grant, which funds a newly established graphic novel service, program or initiative, went to the library of the Birchwood School, a middle and high school at a South Carolina juvenile detention facility. The grant will be used to bring professional creators to the campus for workshops helping students to develop their own graphic memoirs. In addition to strengthening graphic literacy skills, the project aims to expose students to career paths in sequential art.
In a statement, Nancy and Carl Gropper of the Eisner Family Foundation praised the growth of graphic novel programs in libraries across the country:
Will Eisner was the first creator of his time who deeply believed in the literary and artistic potential of the comics medium, and in its capacity to handle subject matter of a serious nature. The subsequent recognition and acceptance of this medium by the library community was of great importance to him. Through their hard work, thoughtful development and creativity, graphic novel librarians across the nation are building graphic novel collections representative of some of the best work in the field for readers of all ages and backgrounds. We are most grateful for their efforts and offer these grants with our heartfelt appreciation. Our congratulations to this year’s grant winners for their most inspiring and innovative work.
The grants will be officially awarded in a ceremony at next month’s ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. Congrats to the winners bringing graphic novels to the public in new and innovative ways!
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.