Category: Public Librarians Symposium

98 - Graphic Novels and the Humanity of Mental Illness: An American Library Association Carnegie-Whitney Funded Annotated Bibliography Project

Tuesday, May 22
2:00 PM – 2:55 PM

Objectives: We were awarded a Carnegie-Whitney Grant to prepare and disseminate an annotated bibliography that organizes and describes graphic novels written about mental illness. We anticipate the product will be especially beneficial to patients/caregivers, medical professionals, and librarians. The objective of our presentation is to introduce this project to the medical library community.

Given the fact that approximately one in five adults experiences mental illness in any given year, it is safe to say that its impact is both deep and wide. Reading graphic novels about mental illness can be an especially beneficial endeavor for people experiencing emotional challenges, as those individuals can find reassurance in knowing they are not alone. Additionally, medical professionals can benefit greatly from these works, as the visual aspect of graphic novels skillfully reveals the deeply personal, and often hidden, side of mental illness.

It is our goal to help patients and medical professionals connect to these resources. One of the ways we plan to meet this goal is by heightening awareness among medical librarians. Sharing information about our annotated bibliography with the medical library community would be hugely beneficial in ensuring the success of this project.

The online guide can be accessed at It was officially launched in early May of 2018. That said, many details pertaining to our assessment of this product, including its impact and overall reception, are not yet available. We hope MLA attendees will provide us with feedback or utilize the feedback form on the online guide.

Although we hope everyone will enjoy this website, we anticipate it will have particular benefit for three user groups listed under Objectives. We invite you to view our poster for further details and conclusions.

Keywords: Annotated Bibliography, Mental Health, Narrative Medicine, Graphic Novels, Graphic Medicine

Tina L. Hefty

Assistant Director of Library Services
Frank Ritchel Ames Memorial Library / Rocky Vista University
Ivins, Utah

Tina L. Hefty, MLIS, is Assistant Director of Library Services and Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities for Rocky Vista University, a medical school with campuses in Colorado and Utah. She teaches several courses within the Department of Medical Humanities, including Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine (IEBM), a required course for first-year student doctors, and Graphic Novels & Medicine, a cross-disciplinary elective course.

Tina designed and implemented Graphic Novels & Medicine as an elective course offering in 2016, and it remains one of the most popular electives at RVU. This class targets the topic of humanism in medicine through a literary lens. Students read and discuss graphic novels pertaining to illness/recovery, and conclude the semester by creating a comic of their own. Developing this course allowed Tina to become highly familiar with how graphic novels written about medical conditions—including mental illness—can benefit and educate readers.

Tina earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado at Boulder, followed by a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Denver. She has a chef for a husband, and a dog and a cat as her adopted children. She loves to read, especially graphic novels, sci-fi and fantasy, and female-authored classics. In her spare time, you can find her outside, throwing balls for her dog, playing disc golf in the mountains, or camping by the Colorado River.

Jenifer A. Fisher

Research Librarian, Instructor of Medical Humanities
Frank Ritchel Ames Memorial Library
Parker, Colorado