The aim of Wych Park Branch’s Representations of Mental Health in Comics Special Collection is to ensure that the maximum amount of information is imparted to the user in the most accessible manner possible. As such, our intention in arranging and cataloging the collection should serve to reflect these intentions. We want to get these works into the hands of as many people as possible and, for this reason, we need to take into mind several approaches that will help maximize accessibility.

Our collection will be given its own special standalone section, separated from, but still relatively close to, the rest of our library’s graphic novel collection [1]. Owing to the mature subject matter presented by many of the items in this collection, it will be housed alongside our adult graphic novels [2]. With this in mind, the collection will be available to all users, regardless of age.

In order to centralize our collection, we will be shelving it under the single Dewey Decimal Classification number of 741.5, which stands as the broader classification number for comics and graphic novels [2]. This will allow us to avoid spreading our collection throughout our larger library collection, thus allowing for a more concentrated and effective collection [2]. Following the ideals espoused by William Fee (when discussing autobiographical works such as ‘Maus’ and ‘Persepolis’), we will be shelving these works, many of which are created by a single writer/artist, alphabetically by author [3]. In the case of a collaborative work we are going to shelve the works by writer as we feel that the writer’s narrative and story is what provides the major thematic content of the work. Our collection touches on numerous major topics and, in many cases, there are currently only one or two works that cover a given topic; as a result, we feel that organizing the shelving of the collection by author can only serve to aid in making the collection appear less chaotic, especially for first time users.

From here, it is of the utmost importance that we provide cataloging information that will ensure that our users are better connected to relevant materials. For our in-house electronic cataloging, we will be utilizing the Dublin Core metadata standard, which is known for its simplicity and extensibility [4]. Our adoption of this standard owes something to our small staff size, which requires that all members of the staff take part in on site cataloging. For this reason, we have decided to use a metadata standard that is accessible and usable for staff members with different levels of experience. With this in mind, we will have to augment a few fields to accommodate our subject matter. These alterations will be performed in-house by members of the library staff, who will be responsible for supplementing each item’s subject headings and descriptions with additional relevant information designed to bring it to the attention of users seeking works on specific topics.[5]

In the case of our items, we will produce records such as this:


Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me: A Graphic Memoir

Note: In many cases we will be following the title as presented in the Library of Congress catalog


Forney, Ellen



Manic-depressive illness–Comic books, strips etc.; Mental illness–Comic books, strips, etc.

Note: We are featuring Library of Congress subject headings alongside MeSH subject headings.


Bipolar Disorder; Affective Psychosis, Bipolar; Manic-Depressive Psychosis; Depression, Bipolar; Mania; Manic State; Manic Disorder

Terminology from MeSH


Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.

Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind.

Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose.

Description/Summary from publisher


New York: Gotham Books














[1] Kan, Kat (2013). “Cataloging Graphic Novels.” Diamond Bookshelf.

[2] “Graphic Novels: Suggestions for Librarians (2006).” American Library Association.

[3] Fee, William (2013). “Where is the Justice…League? Graphic Novel Cataloging and Classification. Serials Review. Volume 39.

[4] DCMI Usage Board (2012). “Dublin Core Metadata Element Set Version 1.1”. Dublin Core Metadata Initiative.

[5] Please see Subject Access for a detailed discussion of Wych Park’s use of subject headings.

~ Created for LIS 501 ~


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