Quest for comics leads to new collection at Richter Library

The hype surrounding Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, a comic adventure series that follows the character “Dream” of The Endless, played a role in the rationale for the University of Miami’s new comic book collection in the Otto G. Richter Library.

This past December, Dave Wiles, a sophomore music major, proposed the idea of inserting a private comic section in UM’s main library.

“I was looking for this graphic novel called Sandman, which is another one of my favorites, down in the juvenile section, which shouldn’t be there because it’s not a kids’ book,” he said.

Wiles says that if people can search for comics, as they do fiction books and other genres, students will no longer have to search for comics that are scattered throughout the library.

UM’s administration rapidly replied to Wiles’ request, putting William Jacobs, the librarian in charge of science and engineering, to work organizing the collection.

Among the organization requirements, Jacobs is donating his personal comic collection to the library. This includes a wide variety of Marvel comic books, including today’s most popular superheroes.

The collection has been building since January. The stacks are now filled with comics that the library already has in stock, such as the complete Sandman series and other one-shot stories that contain various episodes in one volume.

Despite Jacobs’ superhero craze, he said, “Sandman is a good entry drug. It helps expand past super hero fantasy.”

The mix of the library’s Sandman series and Jacobs’ superhero collection, along with other high-value comic books like Japanese manga, is the beginning of change for UM’s library. This collection steers away from the academic sources that UM is most noted for, opening the door for readings of personal interest.

Assisting Jacobs on this comic book project is another Sandman fan, Sara Garamszegi, a senior biology and computer science major. Garamszegi hopes this collection will bring UM’s community together.

“A lot of people think that comic book geeks are not really part of UM’s culture because it is more known for academics and beach life, but comic books in general are on the rise,” she said.

Before this collection attracts the diverse student body UM has to offer, the first step is getting the word out to comic book fans.

Jacobs believes this comic book collection is not ready to be publicized. “Until we start buying, there is no need to make a big publicity push,” he said.

After Jacobs’ donation is complete, the library will order $1,000 worth of comic books through mail order. This is a unique process for the university library, because they are ordering from outside the Miami-Dade district. The budget calls for spending another $2,000 more in the future.