New York ComicCon: A Rewarding Experience for Librarians

by Leigh Milligan, Head Editor, INALJ Wisconsin

New York Comic Con: A Rewarding Experience for Librarians

Leigh MilliganOn October 10th, I attended New York Comic Con (NYCC) for the first time. I have always heard about it and wanted to go, but never had an opportunity to until this year. NYCC includes pop culture related vendors and artists, as well as authors and publishers. Last year, I found out about applying for a professional pass as a librarian to get a free or discounted admission, but I found out too late. This year, I more seriously considered it, applied and got accepted for the Pro Pass. There were two options: I could get a free pass for the Thursday, which was the professionals day, or a discounted pass for all 4 days for $25. I didn’t want to be too overwhelmed as NYCC is a huge conference, so I went for the free Thursday pass.

One of my main reasons for attending NYCC as a librarian was for the professional networking opportunities. As a new, non-working librarian, I have been taking advantage of any networking opportunities that come my way, and this looked like it could be a great one. Between all of the panels, NYCC offered plenty of opportunities to network with other librarians. I even had created business cards to use for this awesome opportunity.

The NYCC Pro Day offered a variety of panels for teachers and librarians. My only problem was that many of the panels I wanted to attend ended up overlapping with others, so I had a really hard time choosing which ones to select. I ended up choosing three: Fandoms in the Library, Creatively Energizing Your Students with Comic Books and the Arts, and Women in Comics.

Here’s a little about each of the panels and what I took away from them.

Fandoms in the Library

This panel was an ALA-sponsored panel presented by Kate Kosturski, fellow INALJ Head Editor of INALJ NYC and Samantha Marker, Mount Laurel Library. This panel described how librarians use fandoms to enhance programming and instruction and it explored how fandoms are used in public and academic libraries.

This panel was my favorite of the three all day. Not only was it presented by an INALJ Head Editor (YAY Kate!), I learned the most from this panel. And it was very helpful that a PowerPoint Presentation was created so it was very easy to take notes.

What I Learned from Fandoms in the Library: 

What is a Fandom? It’s a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. You can usually find Fandoms in Fan Fiction, anime and social media. How to find out about Fandoms: patrons, family, friends, teen advisory programs, and social media.

Popular Fandoms: anime, Sherlock, Supernatural, My Little Pony, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Avengers, Furries, and Pokémon.

Ideas for Programs: Fan Fiction Club, Newlyweds Game, D and D with Fandoms, Fandom Con, crafts.

Tips: Create a judgment-free environment, accept that you don’t know everything, prepare for the ridiculous and embrace failure. Great tips that can be transferable anywhere including the library jobs market)

Kate brought up some very fabulous ideas for fandom programs that could be used in the academic environment such as Jane Austen, Walking Dead, Night Vale, Downtown Abbey, Brain Scoop and Doctor Who. I’m always a fan of crafts and creative writing but my favorite idea for a program was a podcast workshop for a Night Vale Program.

What I can use from this panel:

While I am not currently working in a public or academic library I am planning programs for the medical library I volunteer at. After listening about the Jane Austen Programs, I decided I would like to try and get a Jane Austen Society to come do a program for our patrons particularly our older patrons. I am also interested in some of the craft programs for our younger and older patrons like super hero soap making or knitting!

Creatively Energizing Your Students in the Arts 

I was having a hard time trying to find a panel to attend in this time slot, and I was a little skeptical about this one because I am a librarian, not a teacher. But when I found out people from the Jim Henson Company and Sesame Street Workshop and the founder of Kids Comic Con were doing this panel (Alex Simmons, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Noel MacNeal, Diana Leto, Paul Castiglia, Louis Mitchell and Bonnie Erickson) I got a bit more excited because I am a huge Henson fan. Plus, I used to volunteer as a children’s librarian, so if I ever decide to work as a children’s librarian again, what I learned from this workshop could be brought back to my profession.

This panel was more inspiring than a learning experience. It showed how one could add a unique way to educate young minds. I got to hear inspiring stories of how these people came to be whom they are, and it was awesome to hear that most were inspired by Jim Henson and want to continue to live his legacy in the arts.

Here’s a couple inspiring quotes from the panel: “Artists are generally happier people.” “Dreams are seeds, not fantasies.” “Keep the kid alive in you.”

Women in Comics

This panel was another ALA-sponsored session, featuring women librarians and comic writers/artists. They basically did a Q&A about different topics involving women in comics, which was super interesting. My favorite person from this panel was Becky Cloonan; she had a lot of interesting views towards women comic characters and writers, and she was a very interesting person to listen to in general. I plan on reading her comic in the future.

Here’s what I learned about them and women and comics based on their responses:

Their influences: Gail Simone, Chris Claremont

Their favorite female superhero characters: Rogue, Storm, Buffy, Wonder Woman, Cat Woman

Collection practices for comics in libraries: Diversity, advocacy, and being able to promote comics to parents

Quotes from the Panel: “Wish women could be viewed like the brains in the jars like on Futurama.” “Females are equal to males in Manga.” “It is OK to read a comic AND like Shakespeare.” “Female librarians can play the role of pushing the indie comics in their libraries.”

Someone also recommended this blog: DC Women Kicking Ass

In conclusion, I really learned a lot from all three of these panels, and was able to bring information home with me to use in my library. I had a very enjoyable day at the con, catching up with my librarian friends and meeting new ones. I was able to meet up with Kate of INALJ NYC and Claire of INALJ NJ, and we plan on making INALJ meetups more frequent. I highly recommend NYCC to any librarian to lives on the East Coast or for anyone who does not mind traveling. The panels are very resourceful for librarians, it’s a great networking opportunity, and it is a great experience overall. Although, I may plan better next year and go longer than a day, because outside the panels, NYCC is a lot to take in and one day was just not enough to totally experience this amazing con.

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