"Legends of the Library Ninjas" graphic novel
Legends of the Library Ninjas: A Quest for Knowledge
Greg "Inky" Charland - writer/artist
Tags: librarians ninjas comic books
Added: 1 year ago
[the first panel shows two students enter the library]
ALLY: It's the first day of classes and we already have homework. I can't believe I have to write a research paper already!
DREW: I know, and I've never been in this library. How are we supposed to find anything?
[the second panel shows a closeup of the two students]
DREW: It's so big! I don't know where to begin.
[the third panel shows a large wooden sign materialize in front of them with a "Poof!"]
[the fourth panel shows the female student point at the sign with a look of shock on her face]
ALLY: Look! This sign says "Computers." Let's start at the computers.
DREW: [to himself] Where did that sign come from?
[the fifth panel shows the students walking up to the computer terminals]
ALLY: Here we go. Now we just need to search the online catalog to find books that can help us write our research papers.
[the sixth panel shows the male student sitting at a computer and talking to his classmate (as a gloved hand reaches in from off camera and sticks a post-it note to his monitor)]
DREW: I think I found something, but all I'm getting is some numbers.
[the seventh panel shows the female student pointing at the post-it note]
ALLY: Oh! This sticky note has your book written down and says "Dewey Decimal."
DREW: [to himself] Sticky note? Where'd that come from?
[the eighth panel shows the male student poking at the post-it note with his finger, while the female student grabs him by the shirt and tries to drag him towards the stacks]
ALLY: According to your sticky note, this Dewey Decimal thing can help us find the book we need.
DREW: I think you're right. What about the note?
ALLY: Leave it! Come on!
[the ninth panel shows the female student reaching for a book on the top shelf]
ALLY: Here's the book! The Dewey Decimal System is a way of organizing the books. It is broken up into numbered subject groups.
[the tenth panel shows the female student turning towards her classmate (as a gloved hand reaches out from the other side of the bookcase and hands her the book)]
ALLY: It's pretty easy ... If you know your decimals, you're good.
DREW: [to himself] I'm getting hungry. I wonder if I can get a cookie around here?
[the eleventh panel shows the two students looking at the book]
DREW: We found our books, but we need more references. Can we find stuff online?
[the twelfth panel shows the female student looking back at the computer terminals]
ALLY: Yeah! Let's go see what else we can find on the computers!
[the thirteenth panel shows the two students walking back towards the computers, as three shadows can be seen on the floor behind them]
DREW: [to himself] I could really go for a cookie right now.
[the fourteenth panel shows the male student sitting at a computer, when what appears to be a large knife (with a note attached to the end) is thrown from off camera and embeds itself in the keyboard with a "Thunk"]
[the fifteenth panel shows the female student sitting at the computer next to him, as she calmly puts a finger to her lips and shushes him]
ALLY: Shhhh! This is a library.
[the sixteenth panel shows the two students examining the object]
DREW: What on earth is this?
NARRATOR: It's a kunai. A kunai is a Japanese tool possibly derived from the masonry trowel. It was used as a multi-functional weapon. It is commonly associated with the ninja, who used it to gouge holes in walls.
[the seventeenth panel shows the female student pointing at the kunai and smiling]
ALLY: Look! It says what we can find on these computers.
[the eighteenth panel shows the female student reading the note attached to the kunai]
ALLY: "Start with general keywords. You can narrow results from there. Try alternate keywords if you don't find the results you need."
[the nineteenth panel shows the male student staring blankly at her as she continues reading]
ALLY: "If you need your information immediately, you should limit your results to full-text."
DREW: Okaay ...
ALLY: "Also, each database will have slightly different information. Try more than one database! Evaluating sources can be confusing."
[the twentieth panel shows the male student with a bored look on his face, as she continues reading]
ALLY: "Library databases can be more reliable than Google or Yahoo, because you can find stuff from academic journals and peer-reviewed sources."
DREW: Uh huh ...
ALLY: "If you are using a search engine, stick to official websites that would know the most about a subject."
DREW: I see ...
[the twenty first panel shows the male student with a slight scowl on his face, as she continues reading]
ALLY: "A scholarly or peer-reviewed article is one that has been edited and fact-checked by a professional authority on a chosen topic. They can be found best in the library databases.
DREW: Yes, but ...
[the twenty second panel shows the male student brandishing kunai with an angry look on his face, as the background turns red]
DREW: It doesn't explain what this is and where it came from!
NARRATOR: It's a kunai, Drew. We told you on the previous page.
STUDENT: [from off camera] Hey, relax newbie. It's just the ninjas.
[the twenty third panel shows the two students staring at each other, as they both say "Ninjas?"]
[the twenty fourth panel shows another male student sitting at one of the computer terminals]
STUDENT: Yeah, library ninjas. They help out around here.
[the twenty fifth panel shows the student raise his hand without looking, as someone off camera tosses him a book]
[the twenty sixth panel shows the student holding out the book in front of him]
[the twenty seventh panel shows the female student angrily yelling]
ALLY: Ninjas? Yeah right! If we have ninjas instead of normal librarians, how do we get interlibrary loans? What if the library doesn't have any books that match your topic and no access to online journals that might help?
[the twenty eighth panel shows the female student turn to her classmate and continue arguing, while he stares wide-eye at something behind her]
ALLY: The library easily finds and requests books from other libraries across the United States, depending on where the item is being sent from. It could take anywhere from a day to a month. So there can't be library ninjas ... Drew! What are you staring at?
[the twenty ninth panel shows the male student pointing behind her, as she turns and looks]
[the thirtieth panel shows three ninjas posing dramatically in front of them]
[the thirty first panel shows one of the ninjas handing the female student a book]
NINJA 1: I apologize that it took so long to get this to you, but it was in Nebraska. That's a far run, even for us.
ALLY: Err ...
[the thirty second panel shows the ninja bowing, so she bows in return]
ALLY: Thank you.
[the thirty third panel shows the ninja putting his arms around the two students]
NINJA 1: We can help you find more than books. We can help you find ...
[the thirty fourth panel shows one of the ninjas rappelling down a rope, carrying a stack of books in one hand]
NINJA 2: Journals, magazines ...
[the thirty fifth panel shows another ninja holding a stack of newspapers]
NINJA 3: Newspapers, periodicals ...
[the thirty sixth panel shows another ninja holding a DVD case entitled "Ninja Master"]
NINJA 1: DVDs and graphic novels.
[the thirty seventh panel shows the two students talking to one of the ninjas]
ALLY: You'll be here whenever we need anything?
NINJA 1: Yes, you just have to ask.
[the thirty eighth panel shows the male student pointing to an image of a cookie]
DREW: Like if I need a cookie?
[the thirty ninth panel shows the ninja wagging a finger in the male student's face]
NINJA 1: Don't push it.
[the fortieth panel shows a closeup of the ninja]
NINJA 1: We have other work to attend to.
[the forty first panel shows the three ninjas standing side by side]
NINJA 1: But we'll be around.
[the forty second panel shows the ninjas disappearing in a puff of smoke]
[the forty third panel shows a plate of cookies sitting on a chair ... a kunai is stuck in the side of the chair (with a note reading "Cookies"), and a katana sword is stuck in the floor nearby (with a note reading "Now Get to Work")]
[the forty fourth panel shows the two students looking at each other and smiling, as they both say "Best. Library. Ever!"]
Ally and Drew are on a quest for knowledge as they explore the university library in search of resources for their assignment, with a little help from the stealthy library ninjas!
Monday, Aug. 20, 2012
Stealth education: Ninjas, graphic novel explain library services to Salina students
SALINA -- Seldom seen, library ninjas perform heroic acts to ensure their patrons have access to information. These mythic vigilantes and their escapades are brought to life in "Legends of the Library Ninjas: A Quest for Knowledge," a graphic novel resulting from a partnership between Kansas State University Salina and Kansas Wesleyan University.
The graphic novel was co-written and illustrated by K-State Salina student Greg Charland, senior in computer systems technology, Abilene.
Charland worked with Heidi Blackburn, undergraduate services librarian at K-State Salina, and Kate Wise, associate librarian at Kansas Wesleyan, to create storyboards.
In addition to giving final approval for the graphic novel, the librarians teamed up to write the last five pages of the booklet, which include tutorials on how to conduct effect research, such as using Boolean logic, finding and evaluating sources, and using the Dewey decimal system.
Blackburn received a $3,500 Academic Excellence Award from the university for the project.
K-State Salina students will be introduced to the graphic novel during the campus' Wildcat Welcome Week activities, with a Library Ninjas party that will include the book, ninja-themed snacks, prizes and giveaways. All Kansas Wesleyan University freshmen will receive the book during library instruction day in early September, as part of Wesleyan Challenge.
Academic Librarians Get Graphic
By Meredith Schwartz on November 20, 2012
Kansas State University Salina and Kansas Wesleyan University partnered to create a graphic novel that explains how to conduct effective library research. Heidi Blackburn, undergraduate services librarian at Kansas State Salina, and Kate Wise, associate librarian at Kansas Wesleyan, worked with Kansas State Salina student Greg Charland to create storyboards. Blackburn and Wise wrote the instructional portion, and Charland co-wrote and illustrated the result: Legends of the Library Ninjas: A Quest for Knowledge.
The comic was inspired by a similar effort at a nearby institution, Blackburn told LJ. McPherson College's Miller Library created the Library of the Living Dead comic a couple of years ago. Blackburn and Wise frequently collaborate with the creators, Matt Upson and Michael Hall, because their schools are nearby and have similar student populations. So they were excited about the concept and waited eagerly for the results.
When Upson and Hall officially presented at the Kansas Library Association Spring Conference, "We immediately asked Michael Hall if he could do" something similar for them, Blackburn said, "but he was committed to other libraries who had gotten to him first." So they turned to Charland, who was so intrigued by the project that he gave them a discount on his fee. Charland was paid out of a $3,500 K-State Academic Excellence Award grant, which also covered the K-State portion of the printing costs. Library Ninjas was printed by print-on-demand graphic novel publisher, ComixPress, and online access was set up through Issuu, so they could track analytics.
Since McPherson had just done zombies, K-State and Kansas Wesleyan chose ninjas based on a long-standing campus joke. "We joke that we have them because chairs gets pushed in and stations cleaned up but nobody ever sees anyone doing those things." Blackburn assured LJ that the ninja characters are not based on her or Wise personally.
Measuring Comic Impact
To assess the viability of the project, the librarians conducted a survey in advance, and found that 66 percent of K-State students surveyed were optimistic about using a graphic novel as a handbook, and 54 percent at Kansas Wesleyan. According to Blackburn, they found that freshmen and sophomores were extremely receptive to the idea, while juniors and seniors were not as open to it. Blackburn attributes the difference in part to the fact that juniors and seniors have more specific research needs, based on their majors, rather than library skills in general, and in part to the fact that more recently matriculated students are more familiar with graphic novels being present in their high school library collections. (K-State maintains a small graphic novel collection of its own as well.)
Kansas State Salina debuted the book at a Library Ninjas party during the campus' Wildcat Welcome Week in August, and all K-State Salina Freshman University Experience courses, as well as other introductory courses, added the graphic novel to their library instruction curriculum. It was announced on Facebook, Twitter, and the library blog. Advance copies were given to the admissions and public relations offices, the writing center, and academic advising. A display and print copies were available in the library, and a link to the electronic version on the library website. All Kansas Wesleyan University freshmen received the book during library instruction day in early September, as part of Wesleyan Challenge, a required first-year experience program. An email introducing the graphic novel was sent to the faculty and the public relations office. An announcement was made on the college's home page, and the library's, with a link to the electronic version, and it was supported by a display in the library's main case.
Afterwards, both schools surveyed students in their university experience courses to see whether the comic had been a success. Said Blackburn, "the assessment turned out much better than we even anticipated." Blackburn and Wise had expected about half of the students to successfully demonstrate the skills taught in the comic; actually, the results were higher, with over 80 percent on both campuses now able to successfully use Boolean search strings, and about 60 percent to identify the online catalog as the way to find books. Some 49 percent of K-State students could identify interlibrary loan, and 73 percent of Kansas Wesleyan students.
Not only was the comic effective, it was appealing. Some 84 percent of K-State students surveyed rated the graphic novel as "awesome" or "pretty cool", and 65 percent of Kansas Wesleyan students. About half of the students said they would refer to the comic again in future.
Neither campus showed any difference in response between the print and electronic versions of the comic. And both have seen increased traffic to the library this year, though Blackburn is careful to note that other factors mean that increase can't necessarily be correlated to the comic: Kansas Wesley added a new academic success center to the library and K-State added two new majors to the campus. And once those additional bodies get to the library, they're also behaving differently: Blackburn says "we've seen an increase in students helping themselves to our stacks, doing self-service, rather than immediately going to the desk."
There's no sequel in the works, at least for now. Next steps for the library ninjas include being "consistently implemented in our university experience courses as part of the permanent curriculum" and tracking the results over several years.