February 17, 2018

Robin Brenner | Movers & Shakers 2007



Robin Brenner probably isn’t the only librarian with a Batgirl action figure on her desk – Batgirl did, after all, become information guru to Gotham’s superheroes. For Brenner, that action figure is an emblem of her work. Whether she’s serving teens at Brookline Public Library or reviewing graphic novels for her web site, No Flying, No Tights! (NFNT, a nod to the television show Smallville), Brenner lives and breathes comics, manga, and anime.

She’s happy to share this passion with other librarians. On NFNT, she provides a virtual training manual and core collection lists for librarians who are new to graphic novels. She was instrumental in the establishment of a YALSA selection list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens, cotaught the online course for Simmons’s LIS program on ‘Manga, MP3s, and MMORPGs: New Mediums for Young Adults,’ and wrote various articles as well as a book explaining manga and anime. She has spoken extensively on the topic, too, which is why Beth Gallaway believes Brenner has ‘singlehandedly made comics come of age in East Coast libraries.’

Her site is so heavily used by teens and fans that ICv2, an online industry trade publication, ranked Brenner as the 11th most powerful person in the manga industry. And by polling her teen readers, she was able to create a much-needed demographic profile of the medium’s devotees.

Brenner’s breezy style on NFNT does much to alter teens’ perceptions of librarians. She understands the impact that the right story at the right time can have on teens who are ‘trying to figure out who they are, what they believe, and where they’re heading.’ Working on NFNT also contributes enormously to her job, making her more confident about collection development decisions, and the questions readers ask help her anticipate what might puzzle her library users.

The site has also led to numerous professional opportunities, including an invitation to judge the 2007 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. She doesn’t take credit for that, but says, ‘I completely lucked out in expressing my love for comicsand graphic novels at just the right time.’ And teens and other librarians lucked out, too.




CURRENT POSITION Reference and Teen Services, Brookline Public Library, MA

DEGREES MLIS, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2003

WEB SITE www.noflyingnotights.com

AUTHOR Understanding Japanese Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007)