According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a graphic novel is "a full-length (esp. science fiction or fantasy) story published as a book in comic-strip format." But the term is always up for interpretation. They can also be referred to as sequential art, comics, photo-novels, graphics, paperback comic novels or whatever one wants to use.
There's more to graphic novels than superheroes fighting their enemies. Graphic novels cover a wide variety of topics and genres- non-fiction, fiction, history, biography, mystery, science fiction, sociology, education and more.
To get help with your research, you can contact a librarian by calling the Ask a Librarian desk at (414) 229-4659 or by coming into the library during regular hours.
Upon their arrival, graphic novels will be shelved in the Graphic Novels New Arrivals section of the Browsing Collection (West Wing, lower level). After a period of time they may be shelved in the General Stacks throughout the library.