I can't believe this is our 3rd year of Nerd Con. 3 years! In case you haven't been around for the last 2 years I've written about this crazy event (which you can find here and here), the HPLD Nerd Con is an awesome little comic and pop culture convention our library hosts. Our mission is to give kids a place to meet people who have like minded interests in the community. We are also trying to give those who don't have the resources to get to a big con the same exciting experience, but on a much smaller scale. So our day includes everything from panels to a costume contest!
I am the head coordinator of this event, so I'm the one who makes all the big decisions, plans, and pretty everything else that goes into making this day work. That usually means planning out the date and location about 6 months out (we can get away with it being so late because we are such a small town), then laying down a schedule, contacting panelists, vendors, artists, designing and printing all the PR, getting together the volunteers and coordinating the staff, setting up the venue... its a hectic job, to say the least! Every year for the month heading into the con I repeat over and over to myself "this is the last year." Then the day comes, and I find myself saying "oh, it would be so cool if we did this thing differently next year..." and before I know it I've started planning for the next con.
This year we were lucky enough to be able to have our con in an old department store. So. Much. Space! It was amazing.
We doubled the amount of artists we had, set up a sweet giveaway section, included a few more lounging areas and had an awesome photobooth! We had a more structured panel schedule, and even set up a few places to play games! I really think the kids enjoyed it.
Things we learned this year:
Let the police know what's happening! They got really curious as to why people were walking around in weird clothes with baseball bats...
Divided spaces are your friend. The movie area didn't work this year because it was too bright to see the projection, and noone went to the fandom meet-ups. I think that they liked having their own space last year.
Pillow forts are awesome. People couldn't see the movie, but they still took advantage of the blankets and pillows we sat out. Some epic forts were built that day...
Video games are easy entertainment. It doesn't even have to be top of the line stuff. We set up a Gamecube with Super Smash Bros and it was busy all day. We didn't even really have to monitor it, the kids knew what they were doing.
Set out tables and chairs. I should have known this from the cons that I go to, honestly. People like to be able to set up a headquarters to ditch their stuff while they walk around, or to chill out while they wait for their next activity.
Talk to comic publishers. We got in contact with Valiant, and they sent us a ton of preview issues and posters to give away! In case you aren't familiar with Valiant, they are the awesome people responsible for introducing the world to Faith, a superhero who super easy to identify with.
I know there's tons of other stuff I'm forgetting, it all happens so fast! If this is something you would like to try with your library and you want to talk to me about planning, etc, don't hesitate to contact me!