By Shanna Miles
The annual Comic-Con in San Diego is a juggernaut that everyone looks forward to. Photos of celebrity sightings, interview snippets, and panel videos dominate the web during the event. And Comic-Con isn’t about just comics anymore of course – it’s about books, movies, graphic novels, and all things pop culture in general. So what about those of us nowhere near San Diego? You DIY your own!
Hosting your own Comic-Con provides a great event for patrons of all ages to express themselves, meet with other pop culture fans, and learn about new characters and fandoms. Mini-conventions are also a great way for public libraries and school libraries to…you guessed it…collaborate! Co-hosting an event of this size can allow for multiple spaces for more activities and panels, and provides opportunities for guests to meet people they don’t already interact with on a regular basis. So what steps should you take first?
Assemble Your Team
Hosting a mini-con is a big undertaking. Collaborating on one means you’ll have more people on your team of leaders and planners. Make sure to involve representatives from all entities involved. Consider a panel of tweens and teens also – they’re often more in-tune with current trends. Host a contest among local schools for your poster artwork.
Create a Schedule
First, think about all the cool stuff that conventions feature like discussion panels, mixers, contests, artist alleys, etc. How can you recreate them? Depending on the size of your event, start brainstorming early enough so you have time to contact possible artists, panel members, and other participants. You’ll also need to book any spaces that are being used. And make sure to promote well in advance so people can clear their schedule and create their costume!
You’ve got a Facebook account, Twitter account, Instagram account, and more. Use them to promote, promote, promote! On the day of the event don’t be afraid to Periscope or Facebook livestream your event. Just be sure to let everyone know they’re on camera. And because you’ll attract new patrons, keep a sign-in sheet around for people to register their email address and social media handle so you can keep them in the loop on future library events.
Beyond Library Collaboration
Collaboration between school and public libraries is key, but don’t forget to involve the many other resources in your community. Wouldn’t it be cool if your mini-con had a panel at a local comic book store, or an art gallery hosted an art show as part of your event? What about a “Romance in YA” panel at the public library hosted by book club students from a local high school? Contact any bookstores in your area, and ask other local businesses to donate or sponsor prizes. Groups like Rotary or your Chamber of Commerce may be able to recruit adult volunteers.
Have you hosted a mini-con at your library? Do you have suggestions for more ways to collaborate? Let us know in the comments below!
Shanna Miles is a school librarian and author in Atlanta, Georgia, and a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation. You can follow her on Twitter at @srmilesauthor.com.