By Katherine L. Kan, MLIS
Libraries have long conducted special programming for patrons of varying ages. Fandom-related programs are relatively recent, but more libraries these days are trying them. Many librarians are fans themselves — of science fiction, of comics, of particular series of books, TV shows, or movies — so it’s relatively easy to create and run these programs. A fandom program is not as large-scale or complicated as a full-blown comics convention. The nice thing is that a library doesn’t have to spend too much money, especially if it can rely on the talents of staffers, a Teen Advisory Board, or willing library volunteers.
Why consider fandom programs? First of all: to attract fans, whether they love Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Sherlock Holmes, Stranger Things, or any other series. Some of these fans may not otherwise think the library has materials they’d like to borrow. These programs also help publicize the library and make the general community aware that the library is more than just a place filled with books. The increased foot traffic generated by programs can immediately lead to greater circulation, and libraries can see other positive results, as well.
A fandom program might be just the thing to get a new family into the library and encourage them to apply for library cards. Also, when people come to think of the library as a place for community and to have fun, they tend to be more likely to support the library as a valuable resource. Teens especially enjoy fandom programs, and librarians can generally harness their creative energy to help plan and present the programs.
Following are three fandom programs conducted by my local public library: Bay County Public Library, in Panama City, Florida. Bay County has seen increased usage by families over the years, thanks to these and many other programs presented by the staff and volunteers. I’m a longtime volunteer for the Youth Services Department and have helped with programming for more than a decade. The ones I’ve helped with have been half-day or one-day events.
Doctor Who in the Library: September 10, 2016
This was a great family event, with activities for all ages. Staff members constructed a TARDIS out of large cardboard boxes — even painting the interior — and people had loads of fun going inside and having their photos taken. I ran a perler bead craft activity. In over 30 years of conducting activities like this, I had never had more than 20 people make something during any one-hour workshop, so I put together 74 kits for a three-hour program. Much to my surprise and delight, they were all gone in under two hours. Good thing I brought my extra beads. People started counting out beads to make the item they wanted, and in between heating up and fusing the finished designs with my handy iron, I put together a few kits as well. More than 100 people came in throughout the afternoon. I estimate that people made around 90 perler bead items.
Star Wars vs. Star Trek: July 11, 2017
Bay County Public Library’s Teen Advisory Board chose this fandom program and helped to run it along with the YA Specialist. I brought my button maker and helped attendees make buttons using Star Wars and Star Trek designs. The program included a trivia contest, crafts, and fun science experiments. Many of the teens came in costumes.
Harry Potter Day: July 22, 2017
Harry Potter Day was another family event, with costume contests, games, crafts, Harry Potter-themed snacks, a photo booth, and lots of fun. Librarians and other staff at the library loved cosplaying Harry Potter characters. One of the activities was the Potions class — staff had fun making props for the displays.
None of these programs costs a lot of money, as long as library staff, their families, and community volunteers of all ages are willing to do some work. Any library can put on a successful fandom program. Choose your own fandom theme and have some fun!
If you’re looking for a graphic novel guru, you’re looking for Kat Kan. Kat looks like the stereotypical librarian with glasses and a bun, until you see the hair sticks and notice her earrings may be tiny books, TARDISes from Doctor Who, or LEGO Batgirls. Click here for more.