Comic Cons are all the rage but who said you have to limit a con to comics? You can taylor any con to your demographic. If you have a large community of writers, you can host a NovelCon. If you have a community of filmmakers, you can host a FilmCon. If you have a community of fanboys/fangirls, you can host a FandomCon. We have a lot of patrons who are into Doctor Who so we hosted a WhoCon. The possibilities are endless.
Why a Con?
Cons are popular nationwide and they aren’t limited to comics. There’s GeekyCon for Harry Potter fans and VidCon for Youtubers but these cons are usually in large metropolitan cities and can be very expensive. Bringing the con experience to your library provides free fun for the entire family.
The Pros of Cons
The great thing about the term is that you can attach “con” after any word and patrons will instantly know what type of program you are offering.
Cons have the potential to attract new patrons to your library. Many people still believe the library is only for checking out books and being quiet. Holding a MinecraftCon, BakerCon, CraftCon, or a DroneCon will bring in different citizens and will ultimately get you new cardholders.
When you attract new patrons and cardholders, you can promote all your special services and collections.
Con means convention so patrons expect to see a variety of activities including crafts, cosplay/costume contests, games, and prizes. Cons can be as long as you want. Some cons are the typical two hours and some cons last two days.
- You can invite local business and organizations that fit your theme. If you know you’ll have hundreds of patrons, you can have business rent tables and proceeds can go to prizes.
- Balloon artists and face painters are always a big hit at any event. They can be costly but it’s a crowd pleaser.
- Photo booths are also very popular. You can pay to rent a photo booth from a local company. This can cost $300 and up but the company does all the work and patrons leave with a picture of your event with your library name and social media contact info.
- Artist Alleys are usually found at comic cons but if you have any type of artsy or fandom based con, you can include an artist alley. An artist alley is a cluster of tables where local artists sell their work. Once again, you can have artists rent a table and it can go towards a prize.
- Food. You don’t have to have food especially if your library is surrounded by restaurants. The drawback to no food is that patrons might leave to eat. You can ask a local food truck to park outside your library, you can ask for sponsors from local restaurants, you can use table rental proceeds towards pizza. We usually ask our local boy scout troop to provide hot togs and chips. Boy scouts usually come with a license to serve food and they do every thing which is great.
Challenges of the Con
- The greatest challenge will probably be your administration and staff.
- You may have to do a lot of convincing to your board and administration to host a large library-wide con. Your best argument is that it will attract new patrons and cardholders. It can also get your library in the newspaper if you invite your local press to take pictures- free advertisement!!
- Hosting a con takes a village and getting several staff on board can be daunting. The staff most likely to help are the ones who are fans of your theme. Look for the geeks.
- A con takes lots of planning and this can also be exhausting. If you are interested in hosting a con, make sure you have lots of time and patience.
As I stated earlier, we have a large community of Doctor Who fans. How do I know this? During our regular school visits, we asked teens to fill out a short survey. We listed every popular fandom including Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, and anime/manga and we asked teens to circle their favorites. Doctor Who was the most popular after Harry Potter.
- Life Size Guess Who-We printed out Doctor Who characters and played the game like the board game version.
- An Evening with Van Gogh-Recreating a Starry Night with the TARDIS-Participants had to recreate the Starry Night painting from the Van Gogh episode.
- Gallifrey name buttons-We used a name converter website and made the conversions into a button.
- Green Screen Photos-Participants chose between two preselected pictures to use as
their background. Their pictures were printed for them to take home.
- The Silence Scavenger Hunt-We hid pictures of The Silence all over the library. Participants received a five-clue sheet and were told to take a selfie with each Silence they found. They showed the activity leader their five pictures to receive Jelly Bellies. You can also have teens tally their arm for every Silence they find for added affect.
- Doctor Who Trivia with Kahoot-We created two 20 question trivia games on Kahoot.
- 10 Different Ways to Wear a Bowtie Craft-Simple bowtie craft with felt. Participants were given key chain holders, earring backs, and pin backs for crafting.
- Costume Contest -A picture was taken of all participants. All other program goers were encouraged to vote with stickers.
The most popular activities were the Gallifrey buttons, Kahoot, and An Evening with Van Gogh.
Stats: 75 participants, $120
For more information on Cons, please visit our 2016 ALA Annual Presentation