Comic Cons Are For Librarians, Too


A weekend Professional Badge to the New York Comic Con (NYCC), the largest comics industry convention on the east coast, only costs librarians $10! NYCC considers librarians industry professionals. Can I justify why this is right and good? Yes. Was I still incredulous? Definitely. I had never heard of a formally recognized relationship between the comics industry and libraryland.

Better still, Professional Badge holders get in early! That’s right, while the other tens of thousands of geeks waited in line for hours, I got to prowl the show floor with mere hundreds while it was still clean and fresh-smelling and I had room to do cartwheels. Unbeknownst to me when I bought the ticket, comic cons also have educational panels. Taking a gander the schedule I noticed much to my slack-jawed delight that NYCC had a whole slate of programs just for librarians.

They had panels on collection development to different age groups and interests. They had panels on justifying the addition of graphic novels and fighting censorship of collections. There was a round table discussion on graphic novel librarianship and an American Library Association (ALA) booth where librarians had their picture taken together. Fans who love their library also had their pictures taken; the folks in costume were awesome!

I went to most panels and here are a few of the things I learned:

1) Comics, graphic novels, and manga are not a genre; they are a format. There are graphic stories in every literary genre. If we think of them as a format, it may help us to incorporate them better.

2) The average age of comics readers is thirty. That’s right, most users of this format are adults. We must stop thinking of them as kid’s stuff and collect vigorously for adults, too.

3) Libraryland can have a sustained global relationship with the comics industry, just as we have with book publishers and vendors. Librarians need to show comics vendors not only why we matter to them, but that they matter to us. We must be the same champions of graphic novels that we are of non-graphic books.

4) New Jersey librarians rock! They ran, and were on, most of the panels. Their Graphic Novel Collection Development Workshops wiki covers much of the subject matter I saw and provides scads of collection development guides. Check it out.

If you’re looking for an excuse to get down to the city for a weekend, always wanted to go to a comic con, and/or want a different kind of professional development opportunity, why not give the New York Comic Con a try?

Helen Linda
VLA News Editor/Editorial Committee Chair
NETSL Vice President / President Elect
Systems & Tech Services Librarian, Goddard College

Originally published in VLA News – February 2011