April 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Librarians Flock to New York Comic Con

Digital comics, gaming, and, of course, costumes were among the draws for teachers and librarians who attended New York Comic Con’s (NYCC) Professional Day on Thursday, October 11, featuring panels by the American Library Association, among other organizations. Once again, as in past years, New Jersey librarians dominated as presenters at Professional Day, covering collection development, library programming, and the history of the science fiction and fantasy genres.

Laverne Mann, branch manager at the Piscataway Public Library, piqued some interest during her panel presentation on Foolproof Graphic Novel Collection Development when she announced an upcoming beta test for a new digital comic product ComicsPlus; Library Edition, by iversemedia. ComicsPlus will offer ebook versions of graphic novels and comics to libraries via subscription.

Two other NJ-based librarians, Emily Weisenstein of Boonton Holmes Public Library and Joseph Gasparro of Montville Public Library, discussed the use of superheroes in promoting library programming. Weisenstein warned the audience that the use of trademarked characters, which includes most superheroes, is not permitted for the promotion of library programs. So teens in her library created their own. They include Dr. Holmes, a superhero librarian, who will debut at the end of October. But NYCC attendees were treated to a preview as Weisenstein transformed herself into Holmes for a mini in-character performance.

Bearing tattoos and spiked hair, high school English teacher Justin DeVoe from Newark, NJ, discussed video games in a panel on Games and Learning. He emphasized that by using games he’s fostered an “interactive” classroom. Meanwhile, Malcolm Bauer, a research scientist at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) addressed ETS’s efforts to develop game-based student assessments. With its Assessment Game Challenge, ETS is soliciting input from the public.

The annual NYCC, second in size to the Comic Con International conference in San Diego draws more than 100,000 attendees to the four-day event. They included Betty H. Lee, library associate for young adults at Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Libraries. Lee said she enjoyed the exhibits from familiar names in publishing, such as Abrams, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Books in addition to smaller publishers such as Kill Shakespeare whose books have appeared on the YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list.


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Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.