Comics, Super Heroes, Pop Culture, and Libraries
Every July, thousands of people converge on Comic-Con International: San Diego to have an in-person experience with their favorite comics, TV shows, and movies. Throughout the year, conventions celebrating comics, pop culture, super heroes, and more take place across the country. These events are fantastic opportunities for libraries to meet potential users who might never have thought of the library as a place they would go, and connect with those who already love their library on a new level.
One way of connecting with people interested in comic conventions is through partnerships. San Diego Public Library worked with convention organizers to host the Art of Comic-Con, which contains forty-five years of Comic-Con art. This free show includes art work from some of the best known illustrators and comic writers in the business, including many works that haven’t been seen before.
Another way to become more involved is to be at a convention in whatever way you can. During 2015, many Colorado libraries were able to do outreach at Denver Comic Con (DCC) through a booth arranged by the Colorado State Library (CSL). With attendance of over 100,000, this was a fantastic opportunity for participating libraries.
Ashley Kazyaka from the CSL explained that the inspiration for getting libraries into DCC came out of the 2014 Colorado Association of Libraries Conference (CALCON). “Library staff from multiple districts expressed interest in Comic Con, but were unsure about how to coordinate the effort,” explained Kazyaka, so she took it on. DCC is run by a non-profit called Pop Culture Classroom, which focuses on literacy, and they were supportive of having libraries involved. To highlight some of the new technology that libraries have and people don’t necessarily know about, Kazyaka specifically talked with libraries involved in the maker movement, as well as people who had expressed interest at CALCON 2014. Kazyaka also put together a Google map of Colorado library makerspaces and handed out information for people to access it.
When asked about the experience, Kazyaka said, “Nearly all of the interactions that I witnessed between library staff working the booth and DCC-attendees were not just positive but enthusiastic…There were times that people would be drawn to a particular activity, get engrossed in it, then suddenly have an excited realization, ‘THIS is the library, really?!’” Kazyaka is convinced that being at DCC is worthwhile, and all the participating libraries are interested in doing it again in 2016. If you’re interested in trying to get involved with your local comic con, Kazyaka recommends planning early and making sure your promotional materials reflect everyone involved.
Some libraries have taken this kind of event a step further and started offering their own conventions. Just do an Internet search for ‘libraries and comic con,’ and the results pile up. Libraries all across the country are experiencing great success with everything from panels, to signings, to cosplay! Publishers Weekly even had a 2014 article called, “How to Throw a Comic Con at Your Library.” If that’s not enough, Diamond Bookshelf of Diamond Comics also has an article to provide ideas for libraries.
Connecting with people is one of the specialties of libraries. What better way to connect with new users and add a new service for those who are already library lovers than through comic cons!
 Yarbrough, Beau. “Comic-Con 2015: Comic Art Show at the San Diego Library, No Badge Required.” Los Angeles
Daily News. July 8, 2015. http://www.dailynews.com/arts-and-entertainment/20150708/comic-con-2015-
comic-art-show-at-the-san-diego-library-no-badge-required (accessed July 15, 2015).
 Kazyaka, Ashley, email interview by Becca Cruz. Project Manager (July 16, 2015).
Tags: comic books, Comic Con, comics and library collection development, community engagement, community outreach, graphic novels, partnerships