Maxwell’s youth services librarian Rose Burdick has just completed a program that makes Summer Reading seem like a walk in the park! Camillus Con, the first-ever anime and science fiction fan gathering in Camillus, spearheaded by teen library volunteers, was held Saturday, July 27.
Bree Argiro and Anissa Croft, seniors at West Genesee High School, thought volunteering at a local library would be a good way to fulfill their senior year service requirements. The two girls spent a few weeks learning their way around the library, shelving books, and assisting where needed. Then Burdick had the great idea of asking her teen volunteers to come up with an idea for a new project.
Anissa and Bree often attend conventions (“cons”), such as Tora-Con in Rochester, NY and knew this would be a perfect project for Camillus teens.
A fan gathering is a convention for people who are interested in various “fandoms”— anime, webcomix, card games such as Magic, TV shows such as Dr. Who and Sherlock, movies such as The Avengers—to come together for a day of discussion, contests, shopping, and just plain fun.
As a student in middle school, Anissa discovered the graphic novel section in the school library. She was fascinated by the art form but didn’t know anyone who shared her interest. Fan networks and conventions such as Tora-Con helped her find many kindred spirits.
“So many kids think they’re alone, that there’s no one here for them,” said Croft during the planning stages of the con. “A gathering like the one planned at Maxwell will let them connect with so many others. It’s a good way for them to find their own little community.”
From the start, the Maxwell teens did most of the work for Camillus Con. An invitation via Facebook brought 20 volunteers to an organizational meeting in April. They designed a logo, sent out fliers, spread the word through social media, invited vendors, and educated the library staff about fandoms, cosplay, and Tumblr. As word of Camillus Con spread through local print media, school newsletters, Facebook and Tumblr pages, and community signage, registration grew. The greatest jump happened immediately after a television interview on Bridge Street, a local news magazine on Syracuse’s ABC-television affiliate, four days before the event.
Argiro, Croft, and the rest of the core group of planners were not without more established help. Youth services librarian Burdick and library director Katy Benson provided organizational expertise and agreed to close the library for a day to give attendees a safe place to gather. Skaneateles Library and the Camillus Town Shop lent sound equipment, and the Camillus First United Methodist Church was a second venue for panels and vendors. New York State Senator John A. DeFrancisco secured a grant for Burdick that covered equipment and food purchases and speaker fees.
Senator DeFrancisco, a noted friend to Onondaga County libraries, toured Camillus Con with aide Lindsay Bednarczyk. He was clearly impressed by the scope of the teens’ endeavor and commended them on their vision and hard work. While not familiar with all the shows and comics represented at the con, he promised to try to catch up. When told that Supernatural would be a good choice, although “a bit scary,” DeFrancisco quipped, “So is politics!”
Maxwell Memorial Library is located at 14 Genesee St., in the village of Camillus. For more information, call (315) 672-3661, visit online at www.maxwellmemoriallibrary.org, or drop by the library. Become a fan of Maxwell on Facebook to see upcoming events and library news and more. Go to the website to see the calendar of upcoming events and register for events.
- Press release from August 1st, 2013, by Rena Brower of Maxwell Memorial Library