Behind the Scenes of the SEE-IT Awards

Librarianship | July 19, 2018

default image

Who are the librarians behind the SEE-IT Award? How did the award come to be? Hear from the EBSCO librarians who partnered with the Children’s Book Council (CBC) Graphic Novel Committee to help create the SEE-IT Award.

The SEE-IT (Stories Engagingly Expressed – Illustratively Told) Award is designed to recognize and celebrate the year’s most distinguished graphic novels for youth. The 2018 SEE-IT Award winner, announced at this year’s ALA Conference, was The Witch Boy, written and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag and published by Scholastic. Read more about the winning novel here. 

But who are the librarians behind the SEE-IT Award? How did the award come to be? Let’s hear from some of the EBSCO librarians who partnered with the CBC Graphic Novel Committee to help create and organize the SEE-IT Award program.

Gemma Doyle, Collection Management Specialist, EBSCO eBooks
Suzanne Temple, Metadata Librarian, NoveList
Kendal Spires, Collection Development Analyst, Core Collections

What led you to become a librarian?  What was your background before your current job?

Gemma: I spent almost ten years working in libraries as a clerical/non-professional before I decided to go to library school. I actually studied archival science with the hope of becoming an archivist or records manager, but after I got my MLS the first job I was offered was as a Young Adult Librarian — which was a great fit for me because I love crafts, graphic novels, and anime, and the library I was working at was very interested in creating a ton of teen programs. 

Suzanne: I was a student assistant at my university library, not wanting to be a librarian. I worked as an office manager for a few years, and realized I wanted something more, and that’s when I realized how well-suited I was to libraries and, more specifically, organizing information. After library school, I worked as a Member Services Librarian for an academic library consortium for a few years, then stayed at home with my three young children and volunteered in their elementary school library for several years. I was fortunate to come to NoveList in 2014 as a Juvenile Materials Cataloger/Metadata Librarian — I LOVE my job!

Kendal: I was a history/sociology double major in college and therefore wrote A LOT of papers, and at some point, I realized that I often enjoyed the research process — tracking down sources and evaluating them for usefulness and reliability — more than the actual writing process. I’m also a veteran of multiple bookstore jobs, so knowing I liked both research and book-related customer service made library school seem like the perfect fit. I landed the job working on Core Collections after graduating and have been here ever since.

 What do you think graphic novels offer to readers?

Gemma: This is something that will vary greatly depending on the reader. Because graphic novels offer both art and a story, people tend to be drawn to whatever speaks to them most. As a reader I've always been drawn to graphic novels whose art I love first and foremost, while I engage with the story secondly. For children and young adults who are like me and are attracted to the art first (especially if they're reluctant readers), they can be almost tricked into reading the story as a way to understand the art.    

Suzanne: Graphic novels are multisensory, and require a different way of reading. Illustrations can speak just as loudly as words; they can make or break the book for the reader. The graphic novel format appears in all genres, with different appeal factors, just like books in text, so there is something for everyone.

Kendal: Among many other positives, graphic novels offer the ability to read more broadly than you often can dealing with just prose alone. I’m more likely to pick up a graphic memoir or biography than an 800-page prose doorstopper on the same topic, both because appealing art is an additional entry point and because the comic format can be less of a time commitment. Which is not to say interpreting comics is “easier” than prose at all, it’s just a different skillset!

Awards like the SEE-IT bring special attention to the high quality and appeal of graphic novels that may otherwise be overlooked.

What is your favorite graphic novel of 2018 and who would you recommend it to?

Gemma:  This is really hard, because even though the year is only half over, there have been a ton of amazing titles published. One of my favorites has been The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. I think teens can understand having a large part of themselves that they feel the need to conceal, so I would recommend this to anyone 12 and above, but especially anyone struggling with gender or identity issues. It has a strong and cheerful “Be Yourself” message without any of the hokeyness. 

Suzanne: I recently read the first volume of Heavy Vinyl, written by Carly Usdin and illustrated by Nina Vakueva. Set in the late 90s, some teenage girls and young women work in a local record shop, and maintain a fight club on the side. Besides the obvious strong females, there is cultural diversity and LGBTQIA characters, and a very sweet and feel-good storyline. I would recommend this for anyone who grew up in the 90s, and teens who want to see some fierce girl power.

Kendal: I really loved The Bride Was a Boy, Japanese cartoonist Chii’s diary comic-style memoir about her gender transition and meeting/marrying her husband. The love story is immensely charming and upbeat, and there are little interstitial explainers about both general and Japan-specific trans issues and terminology; the Japan-specific stuff in particular was mostly new to me and quite educational (but not in a dry way!). I’d recommend it to any teens or adults on the lookout for optimistic and encouraging trans stories.

Why do you think awards like the SEE-IT are important to libraries and readers?

Gemma: Awards like the SEE-IT Award have clear criteria that let librarians know they're purchasing the most outstanding titles according to those criteria, and they can be a big timesaver that way. They can also be a way to get more eyeballs on titles that are published by small, independent presses that might be overlooked otherwise. 

Suzanne: Awards like the SEE-IT bring special attention to the high quality and appeal of graphic novels that may otherwise be overlooked. Making a decision on what to read or purchase can be overwhelming, so knowing a book has won an award alerts readers and librarians to its value.

Kendal: Aside from helping with collection development decisions, it’s always nice to give librarians more ammunition for convincing reluctant parents that graphic novels are “real,” legitimate reading!

Submissions will open for the 2019 SEE-IT Award on October 4, 2018. To help us make the most of SEE-IT Award program, we created a short survey to help gauge interest.

Learn More

Thanks for your comment!

Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator for approval.

Other EBSCO Sites +