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Fandom, Fanfiction, and Readers’ Advisory

Post by Rebecca Honeycutt
Posted October 22, 2015 in Readers' Advisory News, Special Announcements

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Superhero storytimes, Downton Abbey costume contests, and Minecraft marathons -- these were just some of the success stories being shared by librarians at yesterday's North Carolina Library Association Conference. Along with team of fellow NoveList librarians, I had just wrapped up a presentation entitled "Fandom, Fanfiction, and Readers' Advisory," and while I was thrilled to offer information, cultural context, and practical tips for fandom-driven readers' advisory, I was even more excited about the audience response.

In addition to describing programming with fans of all ages, those in attendance also talked about reframing their ideas of fanfiction ("I didn't think I’d ever read fanfic, but then I realized I’ve read everything ever inspired by Jane Austen"), and the de-stigmatization of fanfiction, graphic novels, and geek culture.  One librarian expressed her intention to buy more franchise fiction in Braille for visually impaired beginning readers; another was hoping to try some fannish titles and tropes with an adult book club.

Most of all, librarians talked about translating their experiences as fans into ways that they can help readers. One story in particular stood out: While wearing an Avengers t-shirt in the library, a librarian was stopped by a little girl who wanted to know if she'd seen the Avengers movie. The librarian responded that it was one of her favorite movies, and the girl confessed that she loved it too, even though her teacher said it was just for boys. She then asked if the library had any Avengers books. As the librarian helped her collect a stack of Iron Man easy readers, the girl's mom tearfully explained that her daughter was a reluctant reader, and that this was the first time she'd actually wanted to check out books.

Readers' advisory that provokes tears of joy -- that's the power of fandom.

Check out our presentation and resources to learn more about fandom-based readers' advisory, and how you can use NoveList to serve fans and readers in your community. 

Fandom crew
Team Fandom at NCLA (left to right: Rebecca Honeycutt, Autumn Winters, Elizabeth Coleman, Kim Burton)