Club Scene: Library Carded
With the growing number of anime and manga available, it's time to pay your dues to the library!
When itís the peak of summer, itís hard to warp your mind around anything school related. That includes extra-curricular activities and clubs, such as the anime club. Yet even during the summer, you can be getting ready for the school year by looking for resources that can be useful to your club.
One place that any anime fan should not overlook in their continual search for more anime and manga is the local library. For some, the library is a place for quiet study and research, somewhere to go only when you have a school paper due and need more information than what the Internet can provide. For others (like me), it's somewhere you can relax and read the latest magazines, browse the shelves, and check out CDs or movies that you may not take a chance on otherwise. Oh yeah, and there's books there too.
Yet the library offers something not only for the avid reader, but for the average otaku as well. With manga's increasing popularity in the last couple of years, most libraries have started to cater to its growing fan base by stocking more and more titles. After all, although manga has a diverse readership, it also brings into the library a lot of kids and teens that might not otherwise be there, and therefore, manga can't be such a bad thing in librarians' eyes.
Although more prominent in libraries then it was a few years ago, manga is still mostly seen as a juvenile form of literature. It's for this reason that you'll often find it in the young adult section, along with other kinds of graphic novels. Some libraries place their manga with collections of newspaper comics strips. You may find some manga in the art section, along with some How to Draw Manga books. Of course, if your library is really cool, it might have its own section just for graphic novels, which you'll have to find for yourself.
What kind of manga will the library have, if it does have any? Don't expect anything released last week. Although it will be unlikely that the library will have any hot new series, it may have classic titles anywhere from a few years to a decade old. If you ever wanted to read some of VIZ Media's older series, such as Sanctuary, or other titles from their Pulp line, but you weren't willing to shell out $19.99 for a manga, the library may be able to help you out. It also may have a few out of print or rare series that you can borrow as well.
Aside from oldies but goodies, you may find some more recent manga as well. For example, my local library has the complete set of FAKE, a seven volume series that TOKYOPOP finished releasing last year. It's not brand spanking new, but it's not old either. I'm pretty lucky with the variety and volume of manga that my library caries. Thanks to my library, I'm following Happy Mania, Hot Gimmick, Battle Royal, Whistle, and other series that I enjoy.
With the breadth of manga rapidly becoming available through the public library, anime clubs should take note. At your next meeting, why not check out a few manga volumes and share them with the club? Just remember that they are on loan from the library, so treat them as well as you would treat your own manga collection.
Although not as commonplace as manga, anime is also available to anyone with a library card. The first place to check is the video section of your library. Most libraries still carry a large number of VHS tapes, so if you don't mind watching anime on tape (and often times, this means dubbed), then youíll probably find at least a few anime movies to watch.
DVDs are still a growing addition to libraries, but they are likely to carry anime series as well as regular movies. They are also more likely to be checked out when you want them. This brings me to one of the most useful library techniques that you'll ever need: the art of placing holds. A hold is basically a queue line for an item that the library carries. Say you want to borrow the first volume of Kiddy Grade, but it's not on the shelf. At my branch, youíd go online to the library's home page, find Kiddy Grade and enter in your library card number (my library also requires a PIN). Then you will be informed that you are number 16 in line for Kiddy Grade Vol. 1. When the item eventually comes in, the library calls you up and tells you to come and pick it up. Simple enough.
Sometimes, there will only be one or two people in line before you, although for more popular items, the hold list can be up into the hundreds (The Life Aquatic had 268 holds during the last time that I checked). It requires a bit of patience and planning, but the pay-off is getting to read a manga or watch an anime that you've been dying to get your hands on. Holds are done differently from library to library, but once you find out how your branch does it, you can be placing holds in no time.
You may be thinking, "But my library sucks. It doesn't have any anime or manga!" Well, that's where you come in. Most libraries take requests from patrons on what books they should get. The information desk will give you a form to fill out, and then you can request anything that you can think of. Of course, there's no guarantee that the library will get it, but at least you'll be bring it to their attention. If you have any friends who are anime fans, get them to request the same title as you. The more people who ask for it, the more likely that the library will get it.
There's also the more direct way of getting manga and anime into your library, and that's by donating it yourself. Maybe you have two copies of Akira, a super-delooper, extended, mega director's cut special edition, and one bare bones copy. Give the one you watch the least to the library. Maybe you have a manga that you haven't read in ages, or a show that you haven't seen since you bought it. Maybe you own extra copies of something that you already have. It's possible; at one point, I owned three copies of Kare Kano Vol. 2. Give it to the library! Someone else will get to watch or read it, and it may even inspire them to donate some of their own collection.
As summer kicks into high gear, the library can be a great place to go and escape the heat. Who knows, you may even pick up some anime and manga while youíre there!