Los Angeles Public Library and San Diego Comic Con: A Match Made in Geeky Heaven

Candice Mack, Senior Librarian, Young Adult Services,
Comic-Con Banner at the San Diego Convention Center in 2017

For the second year in a row, young adult librarians for the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) helped coordinate and speak on panels at the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians (CCEL), hosted by the San Diego Public Library and Comic Con International.

The free, five-day conference took place during San Diego Comic-Con from July 19-23. LAPL young adult librarians presented on and/or moderated the following panels, over the 5 day period:

Creators, Libraries, and Literacy

Partcipants met some of their favorite comics creators in a discussion about why librarians and libraries are important to them, featuring Raina Telgemeier, Mike Lawrence, Molly Ostertag, and Zander Cannon, with moderator Candice Mack (LAPL).

San Diego Comic Con Creators Panel

Creators, Libraries, and Literacy panelists. Photo by Florante Ibañez.

Young Adult Graphic Novel and Manga Collection Essentials: What Titles Every Library Should Carry

Librarians shared their compiled knowledge on the best new and classic graphic novel and manga titles that are essential for any library's young adult collection. They discussed current trends in graphic novel publishing as it relates to greater diversity within the genre as well as discuss how to utilize individual comic book issues and webcomic selections in your collection. They covered how to use graphic novels and manga as a way of supporting Common Core curriculum and as a method of encouraging hi-lo readers. They also had a segment on crossover appeal: how to get your comic book reading patrons to like manga and vice versa. They concluded with some of their most anticipated graphic novels, comics, and manga for the rest of 2017 and the start of 2018. With panelists from LAPL: Loren Spector, Marissa Thompson, Jennifer Siron, and Danica Sheridan; and Angela Ocana and Kelly Quinn Chiu from Santa Clara City Library.

Diversity in Comics: A Librarian’s Perspective

We often hear about the importance of diversity in comics from the point of view of creators, but what about the librarians who provide access to the comics? How do library professionals face diversity and inclusion-or the lack thereof-in their comic collection development and programming? How can libraries better support the movement for more diverse and inclusive comics? With panelists Candice Mack (LAPL), Erwin Magbanua (San Diego Public Library), Lalitha Nataraj (Escondido Public Library), and Lisa Valdez (Pierce Community College).

San Diego Comic Con Diversity Panel

Diversity in Comics panelists. Photo by Florante Ibañez.

Graphic Novel and Manga Programming for Tweens and Teens in our Diverse Communities for Any Budget

Representing a vast geographical spread and diverse communities, librarians from the Los Angeles Public Library shared their experiences with programming-presenting and promoting graphic novel and manga content, utilizing partnerships and free local resources. The audience learned about hosting Free Comic Book Day as a library event or at any time during the year. Great programming ideas for tweens and teens include anime screenings, author talks, character visits, giveaways, and fun graphic novel/manga-related crafts, from button making to decoupage. They gave tips on how to make your programs and events a success and show examples from their programs, flyers, and displays. With panelists Corinda Humphrey, Marissa Thompson, Loren Spector, Jennifer Siron, and Danica Sheridan.

San Diego Comic Con Los Angeles Public Library librarians Panel

Librarians from the Los Angeles Public Library. Photo by Florante Ibañez.

Handling Challenges: Bans and Challenges to Comics

Comics are uniquely vulnerable to challenges and bans, especially comics for teen audiences. Participants learned about challenged and banned comics and what you can do if they're challenged in your school or library, with panelists Raina Telgemeier, Candice Mack, Gina Gagliano, and David Saylor. Moderated by Betsy Gomez.

About the Experience

"I enjoyed cosplaying and speaking to other librarians and creators over the course of the four-day convention. As a con veteran, I look forward to participating again in the future. Our panel was about free and easy comics-related programs one could host at their school or library. We showed photos of examples from across the entire LAPL system. We also gave some tips to con newbies as most members of our group were new to SDCC. There are many ways to bring comics into the classroom or library and the convention provides freebies that we like to bring back to our teen patrons. I gave con swag to my teen volunteers and staff as a thank you for their help this summer with our lunch program." —Corinda Humphrey

Corinda and her husband at Comic-Con

Corinda and her husband at Comic-Con.

"I’ve read comic strips and watched comic book based cartoons since I was a kid, but I didn’t start reading comics books until high school, when a good friend brought volume 1 of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to share at lunch. From then on, I was hooked on most titles from indie comics publishers/imprints since they featured more diverse characters and shortly after, started attending Comic Con myself. Back then, I never imagined that my passion for graphic novels would lead to a career in librarianship or to opportunity to be a Comic Con panelist, but I am so glad that it has. Graphic novels are GREAT for youth (and all ages) and we can’t wait to involve even more LAPL staff next year!" —Candice Mack

"For years, I didn’t feel that Western comics were accessible to me—there were too many different runs of Spider-Man and Thor, and I didn’t know where to start. And there weren’t any approachable people in the comic books community who could help me navigate all the different arcs and changes in author/artist teams. Through high school into my college years, I read almost exclusively manga. As a librarian, though, I discovered that the comic book community, while it still has a lot of growing to do, had become more accessible with titles like Ms. Marvel and Lumberjanes, fun series that you don’t need to have read a bajillion past issues of to understand the story. I started reading them and I was hooked! Now I can recommend comics like The Backstagers, Green Lanterns (the Sam Humphries run, which, if you haven’t read it, is awesome), Delilah Dirk, Strong Female Protagonist, Power Up, Zodiac Starforce, The Unbelievable Gwenpool, The Wicked and the Divine, Monstress, and so many more to the teens that come to my library. One of the greatest things about being a librarian is getting to utilize my personal interest in comics and manga to help expand the reading choices of my community, and I was so excited to share that passion at Comic Con this year with my fellow librarians. It was so encouraging to see so many librarians with the same passion presenting at the convention, and also to see how many librarians and educators attended our panels and found them to be useful. Also, getting to spend time with comic book authors and artists and share with them the impact their work has had on both me personally and on my community through my library’s collection. It was an amazing experience that I can’t wait to do again!" —Marissa Thompson