The American Library Association (ALA) and the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation are now accepting applications for the 2020 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries, which recognize libraries for their role in the growth of graphic literature. Last year the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries were expanded to award two Growth Grant recipients and one Innovation Grant recipient. The application deadline is Sunday, February 9, 2020.
These grants extend graphic novels into a new realm by encouraging public awareness about the rise and importance of graphic literature and honoring the legacy and creative excellence of Will Eisner. For a career that spanned nearly eight decades — from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics — Will Eisner is recognized as the “Champion of the Graphic Novel.”
Three grants will be awarded: two recipients will receive the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grants which provides support to libraries that would like to expand their existing graphic novel services and programs; one recipient will receive the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant which provides support to a library for the initiation of a graphic novel service or program.
Recipients each receive a $4,000 programming and collection development grant plus a collection of Will Eisner’s works and biographies as well as a selection of the graphic novels nominated for the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at Comic-Con International. The grant also includes a travel stipend for a library representative to travel to the 2020 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL to receive recognition from the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation. An applying librarian or their institution must be an ALA Member to be eligible and the grants are now open to libraries across North America, including Canada and Mexico.
“Will Eisner worked a lifetime to advance the medium he loved, comic art. Early on, he was convinced of its great artistic and literary potential. His highly innovational approaches brought revolutionary changes to the comics industry. A visionary known for experimentation, he pioneered the graphic novel movement and contributed to comic studies as both a teacher and an author of instructional books. He strongly advocated for the inclusion of comic art, comics, and graphic novel collections in libraries. He would be so pleased to see the burgeoning and rapid expansion of graphic novels on library shelves. The three grants are awarded to honor Will Eisner’s legacy and thank librarians for their outstanding dedication to the work they perform each day,” explained Nancy and Carl Gropper of the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation.
The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries debuted in 2014, and the 2019 recipients — the Ceasar Chavez Middle School, Hayward, CA, the Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY, and the State Correctional Institution – Mahanoy Library, Frackville, PA. — were honored at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.
The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries are administered by the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table. Amie Wright, President of the GNCRT said of the grants, “The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries are important because they reinforce that graphic novel collection development should be a continual process of growth expansion and innovation – that our collections should change and grow as our communities and readership changes and grows.”
Joel Tonyan, one of the 2018 Growth Grant recipients, said, “Thanks to the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant for Libraries, the Kraemer Family Library at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs was able to significantly grow our graphic novel collection and bring renewed attention to it from our students and faculty. We’re seeing greater circulation than ever, and more and more faculty have begun to incorporate graphic novels into their curriculum. Moreover, the grant made it possible for us to host a community event in which scholars, students, artists, comic book retailers, and members of the public were able to come together to celebrate the diversity of viewpoints offered by comic books and graphic novels.”
The application and information about the grants can be found on the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table Eisner Grants page. The application deadline is Sunday February 9, 2020. For any inquiries, please contact ALA Graphic Novels & Comics in Libraries Round Table staff liaison Tina Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org.