Watching Harry Potter, feeling fly like it’s Quidditch…
I am no stranger to the wonderful world of fandoms. I follow many, many fandom pages on various social media sites, and I am very involved in more fandoms than I should admit. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw the article we were going to be reading about fandoms by Katie Behrens. And when deciding what to write about and include in this week’s post, I had some serious fangirl moments.
Here I am as Lois Lane. Being a fangirl, and all that jazz, for Halloween my junior year of college. I made that press pass myself by taking the ones they used on Smallville and editing it and changing things until it was perfect for my costume.
Let me start off by talking about fandoms in the library. I have now been working in the Youth Services department at my library for 10 months. And for 10 months, I have basically been given free reign with the teen programming. I love working with teens. I do. I love talking to them, I love hanging out with them, and I love learning about their interests; I know they are an often under-represented group, and I want them to feel at home at the library. One way to do that is to bring in the fandoms.
Katie Behrens made a very important statement when talking about how teens are a large percentage of fandom participants:
“Teens make up a huge portion of fandom creators and consumers, and the teenage years are when a person is most likely to find the world of fandom. A fandom is a community – a group of people who all love the same thing(s). Online fandoms are often safe spaces for teenagers to explore identity and sexuality without the fear of ridicule from peers.”
This really hits the nail on the head. The teenage years are a very difficult time, especially socially. You want to fit in, but you also want to be yourself. Fandoms are a place to connect with like-minded people. You can be a crazy fangirl and not be judged by others or worry that people will think you’re too extreme or obsessive; they are just as insane as you are. Honestly, I wish I had been more involved in the world of fandoms as a teen, I think I would have been much happier. I will just have to be content in the knowledge that I am a super-fangirl now, and I will make up for lost time. Using fandoms in a library setting lets teens know it’s okay to be passionate about something, and it also lets them know that there are others out there like them. I think fandom programming has been some of the most successful in drawing out the shy teens and helping them to let loose, be themselves, and connect with people they never thought they had anything in common with.
The library system I work for does a phenomenal job of implementing various fandom cultures into our programming. Last summer the biggest hit was the Doctor Who party; Whovians of different communities came together and partied it up, making Tardis cookies and Weeping Angel masks and more! I personally did not have the pleasure of attending one of the parties, but I know they were talked about for weeks after. In the past, there have been fandom clubs, Percy Jackson events, and Harry Potter parties as well, and I know those have often been for all ages, because people of all ages are fans. One of the staff members from another library was telling me about how at her Harry Potter party everyone is sorted into houses and throughout the program she does trivia and you can get house points by answering correctly; the harder the question, the more points. She also said the teams that gets the moms on them often win because they crush the hard trivia questions. This goes to show that fandoms include everyone, not just teens.
One of the biggest events, which I have both volunteered at (before I was hired), worked at (after I was hired), and am now planning (I was added to the committee), is something we called LibrAnimeCon. As the name implies, this was a Con aimed at the anime/manga community. And it has been a huge, HUGE hit. Last year we got more than 100 teens. The Cosplay contest had over 40 participants. Many of them made their own costumes. We had everything from Sailor Moon to The Joker, and it was amazing. I have never seen so many teens in one place, having fun, bonding over their shared love of all things anime. Teens who didn’t even know each other were smiling and laughing together by the end of the evening, because they got to just be themselves.
This summer we are expanding it to hit all the popular fandoms, comics, etc., and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I just co-wrote the manual on how to run a comic con with another staff member, and have already begun fielding questions from people at other branches who also want to do this. Fandoms are catching! We, as library staff, have a responsibility to provide our patrons with opportunities to share and explore the things they love.
“Fans are different from the average reader/watcher/gamer, though; they are not satisfied to just passively consume media. A fan of Harry Potter doesn’t just read the books penned by Rowling herself – oh no, she climbs right into the world and plays there.” (Behrens, 2012)
By bringing these fandoms to life, we open the door for creativity and connection among our patrons. For them, we make the library a little brighter, a little more welcoming, and a lot more fun.
If you’re wondering about the title of my post, it is actually from a Youtube parody of the song “Like a G6,” called “Like It’s Quidditch” <– You should check out that link. I find it very catchy. And yes, I know all of the lyrics.
Behrens, K. (2012, November 16). Why you should pay attention to fandoms [blog]. The Library as Incubator Project. Retrieved from http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/?p=7618