The Library of Congress and OCLC (the people who bring you Dewey Decimal, among other things) have made a change to the way books are cataloged that makes it easier to find comics.

I will skip the obscure librarian geekery and get to the part that is interesting.

Have you ever tried to find a movie in a library? Have you naively entered “Star Wars” into the search box and been deluged with books, VHS videos, weird audio adaptations of the movies (on tapes), audio adaptations of the books (on CD), and so on? You know how you can narrow your search to just DVDs? (Of course it will turn out that some shlub has checked out The Empire Strikes Back and has it overdue, but never mind that.)

Now you will be able to find graphic novels and comics the same way! It used to be that you could search for comic strips–like Peanuts–but the precise folks over at the Big Library of LC don’t like to label graphic novels and manga as comic strips because they’re not comic strips.

Assuming your library has a robust catalog, you will be able to find out, for instance, how many graphic novels your library has (total), whether they have graphic novels on certain topics (like dogs or relationships or autobiography), and if they have a specific work in graphic novel format.

I think this is very cool, because it’s a formal acknowledgment of the form, but mostly because it allows people to find the works.

For more information, see the OCLC Technical Bulletin 257: MARC Format Update.