Working in conjunction with the American Library Association, The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation announced the launch of the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries, a new prize in support of graphic novels that will be awarded to three libraries annually at the ALA Summer conference beginning with this year’s gathering in Anaheim Calif. June 21-26. The late cartoonist Will Eisner, creator of such acclaimed comics works as The Spirit and A Contract with God, is considered one of the most innovative and influential contributors to the development of the comics medium.

The new Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize For Libraries will award each of three libraries all books nominated for the prestigious Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the National Book Awards of the comics industry, awarded each each year at the San Diego Comic-Con International. In addition to the nominated titles, each library will receive the entire Will Eisner backlist of titles, a $2,000 voucher for the libraries to buy additional graphic novels and an another $1,000 stipend for the library to hold comics-related or author events. The entire prize includes more than 100 titles and is valued at about $4,000 in total. The prize will be sponsored by library wholesaler The Brodart Company which will also handle the cataloging and shipping of the graphic novels to the winning libraries.

Libraries attending the ALA convention in Anaheim can register to win the prize at the Reading with Pictures/Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation booth (#788). The winners will be announced at 4 p.m. on Sunday June 24 on the Graphic Novel Stage in the convention hall.

Comic-Con International: San Diego, the biggest comics and pop culture festival in North America, manages the presentation of the annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, and also administers the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award which honors comics shops and is presented as part of the Eisner Award ceremony. “We are happy to learn that the Will & Ann Eisner Foundation is creating and administering the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries which endeavors to provide an even wider audience for graphic novels, a move we truly support,” said David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations at Comic-Con International.

Carl Gropper, president of the Eisner Foundation, said the new library prize is intended to recognize the importance of librarians in the continued growth and development of book format comics, or graphic novels. “While Will Eisner helped to create the foundation for graphic novels, librarians have championed the benefits of the graphic novel format and the comics medium to the world’s readers,” Gropper said. “The addition of the Eisner Award-nominated titles to the prize reflects the spirit of inclusion that Will Eisner was known for.  He would have loved to have participated in the convergence of the comics and library communities.”