LibraryCon Part 2- The big day

Our big day had finally arrived! Our first ever LibraryCon was just getting started.  If you are interested in all of our planning please check out my previous post here. Be sure to read my managers three part blog post and give her a follow. She has some awesome posts and ideas. We thought it would be fun to have two different perspectives on LibraryCon since it was such a huge program. I had planned to have all of these written last week but was delayed by my Homestuck party and Cosplay Prom that happened in the teen department this week. My fall self was kinda nuts to plan 3 major programs in a one week time period. Live and learn! On to the show:

Friday Evening:

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Friday was spent setting up and assigning tables in the concourse and our other big rooms. We set up the auditorium to have a small stage for our panelists and lots of chairs. In addition to set up we wanted to do a kickoff night for the con. We invited my dear friends from the local Webseries: Drifter. They came and screened their 1st season. Afterwards they did a Q & A with the attendees. We had a smaller crowd that night (30) but all of them were super attentive and had really good questions. One family with teens made sure to watch both seasons before they came! The teen girls loved the series and were really excited to get autographs from the star. I was really excited to see so many teens in the crowd!

Saturday: The Big Event!!!

I don’t think that Sarah or I slept the night before as we were both so excited. We didn’t really know how many people would attend but we were hopeful that no matter what the numbers everyone would have a lot of fun. We had a great mix of things for people do and see. Our guest list was pretty awesome:

Authors:

Illustrators:

  • David Faught
  • Nate Howard
  • Ryan Wheaton
  • Jared George
  • Adam McLaughlin
  • OzFox
  • Nicholas Ladendorf

Local Geek Blogs and Podcasts:

Area Conventions:

Geeky Groups:

Fandom Stars Early: Geeky Storytime

Doing the 5 little Superheroes song!

The first event of the day was a Geeky Storytime that was run by Sarah. If you are curious about the format please check out her recent blog post here. It was loads of fun and there were about 30 people that came. The best part was watching the kids toss the Tardis on the Parachute to the Doctor Who theme song! It was epic!

The Panels:

We had three panels for LibraryCon and could have easily had more. Since this was our first event we wanted our guests to have time to visit all the tables and come to panels. Next year we plan to do something every hour to fill the time. Plus, we might add a few sessions on drawing for the kids and maybe another storytime.

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Cosplay Panel- Photo by William Atchison

Our first panel was the most successful: How to Cosplay. I think the timing (1pm) was nearly perfect and we had over 70 attend. The group that presented was a mix of seasoned cosplayers and new cosplayers. We also had a variety of ages on the panel. It was a ton of fun getting to hear about how they got started and what their all time favorite costume has been. Next year I want to have a small slide show so they can show off what they make. The audience was very engaged and asked lots of good questions. If you ever do a Con at your library be sure to include a Cosplay panel. It is a popular topic for all ages!

The Second Panel featured our lovely authors. We ended up with a smaller crowd but still had good audience interactions. We did allow signings and sales afterwards and many teens were excited to get the books. Next year we would like to add some indie authors to the mix. We did feature two local authors Ben Reeder and E.M. Ervin in our Author/Illustrator room. They were a really fun pair and could be found joking with the teens and shooting the illustrators with their Nerf guns!

 

 

Book Sales- Photo By William Atchison

Book Sales- Photo By William Atchison

 

For our final panel we brought together all of our Illustrators. They talked about being in the business, how to get started, and the process of being an artist. It was a fun session and had a pretty good turnout. Next year I would like to do a drawing session with them. I think that will pull in some of our younger crowd and really get them interested in the process of illustrating web comics, comics, and art.

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The Local Ghostbuster Group!

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Photo By William Atchison

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We had a local Podcast group set up! Photo By William Atchison

I have to mention my two teen artists that grabbed one of the tables and started drawing. These two girls are lots of fun and very talented.

Photo By William Atchison

Photo By William Atchison

 

During the con we had lots of people show up in costume. We did have a rule about weapons. This was because we did not have the staff to make sure things were fake and not real. We also asked that everyone wear family friendly costumes. If you have been to a con you know why I asked this! If not.. lets just say some people consider paint and seashells to be enough coverage.  It was a ton of fun to see all the creativity from guests and our special groups. Here are some of my favorites:

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Our final event was a screening of Midwest in Panels and a Q & A with the owner of Comic Cave, Josh Roberts. We had a very small crowd and thankfully had Josh present at the beginning. I think it was the timing because most of our table guests had wrapped up for the day so there was not a lot going on. Still we had 10 people stay for the movie. Josh is a great guy and was a real trooper to stay and present for us.

Final thoughts: 

Overall we had around 400+ people for our very first LibraryCon! I think that it was a great success and I am already planning LibraryCon 2016. We only had a few tiny set backs and everyone seemed to have a great time. Check out Sarah’s blog about what we loved about our event and what we would change. If you are considering doing this at your library I highly encourage you to take the plunge! It is lots of fun and it really brings together your community.

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Two very tired librarians!

For me the best part was seeing the smiles on the faces of the patrons that came that day. Many did not know what we were doing and it gave us the opportunity to share the magic of all things geeky. I also enjoyed the interactions and antics of our special guests. They all knew each other and it was like a big geeky family reunion. Everyone got along great and there were lots of laughs.

Stay tuned for more pictures from the con and check out Sarah’s blog for her perspective on the day.

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Our new Geeky Friends!

The making of LibraryCon- Part 1

Once upon a time (last year), my super geeky boss Sarah and I decided to host a Comic Con. We thought that the summer of 2015 would be perfect because the theme was all things Superhero. We half joked in the break room about how cool it would be to have a con that took up all of the rooms in the library and brought together the geeks of Springfield. About halfway into our discussion we realized that we just might be able to pull this off. Seriously, she is a really cool boss! And thus.. in the wee afternoon hours of fall planning long ago, a super event to eclipse all events was born. It was named LibraryCon! This is our journey..

 

Planning big and facing the realities of staffing, space, and budgets: 

Our branch loves to create big programs and we often have events with 100+ attendees. While we wanted the Con to be huge, we had to be realistic with our ideas. The Con would happen during our Summer Reading program which could be both good and bad. Good: Because it fit with the Superhero theme. Bad: Because of staffing and the potential to draw anywhere from 100-1000 people. We had just learned a valuable lesson in staffing after a Pete the Cat program unexpectedly drew in around 600 people.

We decided to put a call out for volunteers several months in advance and send out reminders the closer we got to the big day. We needed room monitors, greeters, book sale attendees, and floaters that would help with breaks. Our goal was to have a good support system for each other, our attendees, and our special guests.

Next came the space. Our fabulous branch manager helped us choose a date and reserve all of the rooms in the library that we could possibly need. Our large auditorium would be used for our geeky panels and screenings. Two of our meeting rooms (with a movable wall) would house the illustrators and authors. The large hallway would be filled with the rest of our geeky guests. The Storytime Room would host the fandom storytime and geeky crafts for kids. Finally, we had a “greenroom” for guests that needed to change into costume that also doubled as our lunchroom.

We mapped out our space and created spreadsheets with guest info, table requests, and locations. This way we would have everything ready to go when people arrived to set up. Then we left the list at the front door with our greeters so they could direct traffic and answer any questions about location and space.

Our Greeter Table- Photo by William Atchison

Our Greeter Table- Photo by William Atchison

Finally, the budget…  July is the end of our fiscal year so we knew that we had to work with basically nothing. From the very start we planned on only spending money on snacks, and mileage for on our our out of town guests. Everything else would have to be donated or used from our regular supplies. Sarah and I wanted  to try and feed our panelists since they were doing the most work and also provide snacks and bottled water for our other special guests. The Community Relations department was able to score us some delicious burritos from Chipotle for free. My husband and I donated water and cookies. We have a cafe at our branch so guests also had that as an option.

To sum up our spending.. we did this pretty much on a Ramen Noodle Budget!

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View of the Concourse with our favorite Star Wars guest!

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Another view of the main hall.

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Our Panel room- Hoping to have a better sign next year!

Finding the Geeks and spreading some nerdy love:

The best part of planning LibraryCon was the realization that we all know some really geeky people. Several of us met of the course of a few months to talk about who we knew in the community. Our goal was to stay within the Southwest Missouri area and focus on local talent. Yeah, we could have blown our tiny budget on one mega geek, but why do that when there is already such a cool group of geeks in the Springfield area?

Sarah and I made a list of everyone we personally knew that might be interested and then sent out an email to all the library staff to see who they knew. I also decided to scout out one of our local cons (VisionCon) to see if I could find some more illustrators, local authors, and cosplay groups. My husband and I met some great geeks that were really excited to join us for LibraryCon. We also talked up our future event at Free Comic book day at the Comic Cave. I was able to find some really cool illustrators to be on one of our panels and have tables at the event. I also met a local Podcast group called Fanatics and the Fan who wanted to come and do live cast at our event!

Between our scouting adventures, emails to staff, and word getting around, we were able to come up with a great list of local geeks to attend our event and all for free! With this list we decided to have several panels and screenings over the two day event. The first night would feature a local group who has an award winning webseries called: Drifter. The second day we set up three panels: How to Cosplay, Meet the Illustrators, and meet the Authors. As our final event we would screen “Midwest in Panels” a documentary about Comic books stores in the Midwest.

The rest of the list consisted of groups in the community that specialize in all things nerd. They were set up in the main hall of the library to show off their geeky talents and offerings to the community. We had a wide range of tables from Cosplay groups, Gaming and Larping groups, to other fan conventions spreading the word about their upcoming events. There was something for everyone to enjoy.

All of our flyers and web publicity was done in house by our Community Relations group. Once the flyers got out word spread really quick! We had several of our guests create Facebook event pages for us, pass out flyers, and event do webcasts. It was awesome!

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Sarah and I on the big day!

The waiting game. AKA- Anxiety and sleepless nights full of Christmas Eve like excitement: 

As we waited for the big day we made sure to keep in contact with our guests, double check our to-do lists, and try to hold in the excitement. You know things are going to be awesome when your husband tells you that it’s like waiting for Christmas. I honestly tossed and turned the night before because I was so excited. This was the biggest thing I have ever been a part of in my library career and I could not wait for the big day.

Stay tuned for LibraryCon Part 2

Also, check out GreenBeanTeenQueen for her take on our event.