Ani-May Fest

This year has been a pretty awesome so far. We finally have a thriving Teen Advisory board that is excited about planning and running programs at the library. Wait… you’re letting them run the programs?! Yes, and other than a few hiccups it has been a success.

I had an end of the school year pizza party for my TAB members and we discussed what we wanted to do for the end of spring and beginning of summer. The top request was me letting them plan and run an entire program from start to finish. I let them choose which event they wanted to do and they all selected   Ani-May Fest. I have to admit I was crazy excited about their choice. To be honest, (Librarian confession time) I am not a huge fan of anime or manga. I have tried to watch the shows they recommend and read the top teen manga for many years. But, I just can’t get into it. Don’t get me wrong, I have mad respect for the genre. The art is fantastic and I get why it is popular. It’s just not something I am ever going to love.

When I first became a the Teen Librarian at our branch I had to run a few programs that the previous librarian had planned. One of them was a Manga night. It was my first fandom program and it didn’t go over very well. I had planned a ton of crafts and had lots of themed snacks for them to try. 12 kids showed up and half were horrified when I confessed that I had not watched or read much from the genre. Several ended up leaving after one girl declared that I was unfit to run anything since I wasn’t a fan. After a few awkward minutes the rest settled in to drawing their favorite characters and chatting. The only saving grace was the cart of manga that had been weeded from the department that I let them take home. Even though the program for the most part bombed I did learn a lot about the genre from the teens that stuck around and were willing to school me on their favorites.

Ani-May Fest was planned 100% by my TAB group. They chose the title and helped me write the description for the program. The only thing I was in charge of was getting the food and setting up a Crunchyroll account so they could watch some anime on the big screen. The best part? One of the teen boys who is not a fan wanted to come and help his TAB friends run the event because he wanted to support what they love. Adorable! Here is what we did:

Ani-May Fest

Celebrate all things anime and manga during this special event. Learn how to make candy sushi and gyotaku paintings, watch episodes from Crunchyroll, rated TV-14/PG-13 and under, and discuss your favorite characters. Other craft activities, games and snacks will be provided. Costumes are welcome!

Candy Sushi

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My TAB members ended up making the sushi for the other attendees instead of letting everyone try it. It turned out okay and they had fun bringing it out on serving trays for everyone to try. I highly recommend using name brand candy and not the cheap stuff. We got the super cheap, off brand twizzlers and they all thought they tasted really bad. Twizzler makes a rainbow variety that taste a lot better! We used the following guide to make our version:

Tip: Use Pam and Wax paper!! We forgot to spray the wax paper with Pam so everything was super stuck together!

Gyotaku Prints-


Gyotaku is a Japanese tradition where you use fish and ink to make prints. It started in the 1800’s and may have been used by fishermen to record the size of their catch. Now it’s a lovely art form! We are lucky to have a small collection of rubber fish that we use at various events. You paint one side of the fish with acrylic paint and lay a large piece of paper over the fish. Then you gently rub it to make the print. Everyone tried it but only few took their prints home. One of the teens suggested that we add googly eyes next time to make them “cooler.” The other suggestion was to us real fish.. um no!



There is a wonderful resource for Libraries called Crunchyroll. It is a streaming service that has lots of popular Anime you can watch in your library. All they require is for users to fill out a short survey at the end of their program on how they used the service. If you buy a membership, it is around $7.00 a month.

Chopstick relay- 

This was my favorite event of the night! One of my TAB members created this game for the attendees. He came up with the rules and made sure that everyone got a chance to play! I am so proud of him and I wish I had grabbed better pictures of what he created.

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The game is pretty simple. See how many items you can pick up and put into the cup using chopsticks. Each item has a value based on how hard or easy it was to pick up with chopsticks. The first round you could use cheater chopsticks and the second round you used chopsticks the traditional way. There was an option to use cheaters the whole time but you forfeited half of your score.  We used flat glass marbles, pom poms, glass shapes, and beads. Some of the glass marbles were inside a vase so it was harder to get them out and into your cup. The teens loved this game and played it over and over. They even created new rules and set up a relay race between partners where you passed pom poms to each other using the chopsticks. There were lots of laughs and everyone got a chance to play!

Other Activities-

Most of them just wanted to draw while watching anime. I had a few games set out: Sushi Go, Takenoko, Tsuro, and King of Tokyo. I also had templates for DIY Pokemon cards and origami paper for folding. It was pretty low key and they could what they wanted or just hang out with their friends.

If you are looking for themed snacks check out Asian markets in your area. I found a bag of 25 chopstick sets for under a $1 and inexpensive candy for them to try. Survey your teens and see if they have any favorites and where they go to buy them.

Final Thoughts- 

This was a lot of fun! My TAB team did a pretty good job helping out with the program. Only one stayed and helped clean up afterwards which is something we need to work on as a group. I’m also working with them to mingle with the crowd a bit more. They tend to get a bit clannish and stick together. We’ve got the planning thing down. We just need to work on the participation part!

The other teens all had a good time and they didn’t care that their librarian was not a huge fan. They loved sharing their favorites with me and liked that other teens planned this event. They asked if this could be a yearly event every May!

Having teens plan your events can help if you are not well versed on a fandom. If you don’t have a TAB group you can still plan a meet up like this. Check with other staff and see if there are fans out there that would be willing to help you with the event. At the very least they can give you pointers so you are not totally in the dark. Finally, be willing to do a bit of research about the fandom and also give it a chance. You don’t have to like everything to plan a fun night!





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