Let’s talk Comic-con. What is comic-con, you ask? Comic-con is a large scale get-together of people who are fans of comics, art, Anime, and sci-fi pop culture. Why would I want to talk to you about comic-con on a library blog? Comics, art, Anime, sci-fi pop culture—these are all things that you can find at the library so there is a seamless flow of thought into having a Librari-con.
A Librari-con is way for the library to invite the community into the library to experience different events and programs that relate to today’s pop culture. It is a multi-generational event that provides patrons with information and exposes them to the world of Anime, comics, Star Wars, and other cult TV programs. Besides engaging those who are already users of the library, a door is opened to a whole new demographic of user—fandom groups. Fandom groups are a subculture of people who follow a certain TV show, movie, book, or fictional character. The Librari-con appeals to these users and brings them into the library for items that they may not even know existed within the walls of the library.
In order to host a successful Librari-con, a lot of planning needs to take place. Several months in advance, start thinking about what you want to showcase at your event. How big, or small, of an event are you looking to host? Will you have a panel of speakers? Will there be hands-on activities? Reach out to your community for involvement. See if local businesses can donate items such as cases of water or snacks for refreshments. If you have a local comic book store, see if they are willing to set up a booth to hand out free comic books or do a presentation. Look for other local businesses or community members that might have something unique to offer. If you will be doing a costume contest, see if you can get prize donations.
As the day draws closer, plan the agenda. Have flyers and handouts available to promote the Librari-con to patrons. Ask local businesses to display a flyer, as well. As soon as you have your agenda finalized, have copies available. Patrons will want to know what you have planned and what time of day the events will be happening. They may not want to spend all day at the library, but they will want to come for certain presentations or to be part of the costume contest. Have handouts available with the rules for the costume contest. Patrons will want to know when they need to be there and what is acceptable—i.e. can they bring faux weapons or not? Ask a local community official, or other leaders in the community, to act as judges for the costume contest. Besides planning for active programming like panel discussions and outside performers or presenters, consider planning for passive programming. Will you have a craft station for children to create something to take home like a superhero mask or a bookmark? Create a bulletin board with a guessing game. Have a photo-op station with a superhero backdrop and props where patrons can take photos. Consider hiring a costumed performer for the day—kids and adults alike will get a thrill out of having their photo taken with Batman or Darth Vader!
Think about decorating your space. Use items from your collection to make relevant pop-culture displays of books and movies. Comic book word bubbles, comic book bunting, pixel art, and helium balloons in primary colors are all great ways to add color and interest to the décor. Silhouettes of superheroes and city skylines can also be used to decorate the space and they are visually reminiscent of comic book art. Look to your staff for ideas and expertise. They may have fandom ideas of their own to share. Encourage them to dress in costume, as well. This will help add to the “con” experience for the patron.
Although this event will require much planning and work, it will be well worth it in the end. It is a great way to bring new users into the library and show current users a fresh face of the library. It is a novel opportunity to market the library and all of its benefits and uses to a set of patrons that may not be familiar with all the library has to offer. By creating displays throughout the library of materials that are pertinent to fandom groups such as superhero comics and graphic novels, pop culture DVDs such as The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Star Wars, and other pop culture phenomena such as video games, books, and movies, new users are able to develop an appreciation for the library that they didn’t have.
Take a look at your own community. Is a Librari-con something that might draw new faces to your library? Think outside the box and have fun. If you enjoy yourself, your patrons will, as well!