Michigan’s Ypsilanti District Library and Montana’s Lewis & Clark Library were both awarded 2014 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries at the recent American Library Association convention in Las Vegas. The program provides two separate grants to each winning library to support their graphic novels programs.

The Ypsilanti District Library in Ypsilanti, Mi. was awarded the prize based on their project “Graphic Novels in Healthcare: An Opportunity for Growth.” The grant will expands their graphic novel collection and offers a program for healthcare professionals to learn how graphic novels can help support patient care and recovery.

The Lewis & Clark Library in Helena, Montana was awarded the prize based on the project, “Graphically Yours,” a program to develop the library’s graphic novel collection and includes a month long schedule of graphic novel and comics public events for patrons.

Although this is the third time the awards have been presented, this year marks the full adoption of the library graphic novel program by the ALA. The last two years the “Will Eisner Graphic Novel Awards for Libraries” were administered and chosen as well as funded by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation. Now revamped as a grant program, the awards will continue to be funded by the Eisner family foundation but they are now administered by the ALA’s Games and Gaming Roundtable and the Graphic Novels & Comics in Libraries Member Initiative Group. The ALA received more than 75 applications for this year’s grants.

ALA Jury member John Mack Freeman. “We had applications from all over the country and from school, public, and academic libraries. This grant provided a fantastic opportunity for libraries that embrace graphic novels to continue to expand their impact.”

The program consists of two grants awarded to each library chosen. Each library-winner will receive a $2,000 voucher to buy graphic novels from the Brodart, a library distributor and partner to the Will and Ann Eisner Foundation; as well as a $1,000 award to host a graphic novel-themed event and $1,000 to attend the ALA annual convention. Each library will also receive the Will Eisner Library (a collection of works by Eisner and biographical works about him).

In addition both libraries will receive copies of each of the graphic novels nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the National Book Awards of the comics industry, which are presented each year at a gala awards ceremony at the San Diego Comic-Con International.

The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Award for Libraries was established by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation in 2012 in memory of Will Eisner (1917-2005), an acclaimed comics artist and considered one of the most innovative and influential comics creators in the history of the comics medium.

Nancy Gropper of the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation says: "It has been very gratifying to work with the ALA in the development of the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries. Will Eisner spent his lifetime working to prove the value of comic art narrative as a valid literary form and deeply hoped that comics and graphic novels would one day become a part of every library's collection. We thank the many librarians who have helped make these grants possible, those who have applied, and we congratulate the two 2014 winners."