Before reading V for Vendetta earlier this week, I had never read a graphic novel before. Though I knew that a graphic novel was a story told in comic book format, and that there were many genres within this format, I still had one glaring misconception. Since I thought graphic novels were for "reluctant readers," I assumed they would also be fairly basic, straightforward stories with lots of pictures. Well. I was really surprised by V for Vendetta, which used both pictures and text to tell a really compex story in a way that I found fascinating. I printed off a list of graphic novels from the YALSA website so that I could try some more.
My misconception made me think about how my biases could affect services to teens. If I had continued to think graphic novels were only for reluctant readers I probably would not have suggested one to a serious or committed reader. If I had thought "graphic" referred to content, like my mother did up until a week ago, I may not have suggested one for young teens or children. Other misconceptions, either about the content of books or about teens that come in to the library, can really hurt the quality of my service.
Furthermore, if teens see me in action, operating under a perception they know to be incorrect, I lose credibility. Though I can't know everything, I can try to learn about whatever I'm unfamiliar with - graphic novels, indie music, etc. - and be honest when I don't know. By asking questions, I not only gain credibility, but I affirm the teen's interests, both giving and gaining respect.