Fangirls and Fanboys: If you’ve been longing to do a fandom-based program at your library but don’t quite know where to begin, here’s a helpful guide to get you started.
What Is a Fandom Program?
Answer: Any program that targets a specific pop culture topic and appeals to a dedicated community (i.e., the fans). Fandoms are often built around series books, comics, manga, anime, videogames, Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Disney, and television shows (e.g., Stranger Things, Dr. Who), etc.
Brainstorming and Planning a Fandom ProgramConsult with and know your audience. What characters appear on kids and teen clothing? What books do they request? What costumes do they wear on Halloween? Ask them what they’re into: Paw Patrol? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Star Wars? Super Mario?
- Start with what you know. For instance, if you feel comfortable with Disney characters, do a Disney-themed program.
- Ask for help. If you’d like to focus on a particular piece of pop culture but don’t know as much about it as you’d like, ask your fellow library staffers for their expertise. It’s likely you’ll find a fan in your midst! Consult local bookstores and comic-book shops. Look for fandom communities online. For Star Wars programs, check your local chapter of the 501st Legion, a volunteer organization of Star Wars devotees and costume enthusiasts.
- Consider the timing. Is there a seasonal holiday and/or a book, movie, or TV show launch that would complement your program?
- Create a book display, bookmark, or a button featuring beloved characters.
- Host a Skype author visit.
- Conduct a manga drawing class.
- Start a monthly graphic novel book club. Here’s a detailed guide to get you started.
- Host a costume or cosplay contest. In addition, you can DIY a Green Screen Photo Booth to create thematic photo backgrounds.
- Host a zombie party. For an example, check out San Diego Public Library’s “Thrill the World” Event that included a zombie makeup tutorial, a “Thriller” flash mob, and zombie walk.
- Create your own Star Wars Day. For inspiration, check out this incredible Rancho Cucamonga event.
- Host your own con. For help, read this excellent article by Stacy Dillon and Amy Laughlin, view the webinar “How to Plan and Host Your Own Library Con” via School Library Journal and Library Journal’s LibraryCon Live!, or check out your own friendly neighborhood ALSC blog posts here and here.
Erwin Magbanua, Programming and Special Events Manager at the San Diego Public Library who has hosted an annual Star Wars event since 2014, offers the following advice: “Always be respectful of the hardcore devotion and passion that comprise fandoms. Always plan your events with the hearts and souls of the fans in mind.”
Marika Jeffery, a Youth Services Librarian with the San Diego Public Library system, is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.