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LibraryCon: Interview w/ Jessie Alexander-East


 The Library Center of the Springfield-Greene County Library is hosting the 5th Annual LibraryCon on Saturday August 17th from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  We asked Jessie Alexander-East, The Library Center Branch Manager, some questions about LibraryCon .

Geeky KOOL:  For those that might not have attended LibraryCon in the previous years, tell us what they can expect if they attend.

Jessie Alexander-East: A weird, wild, and wonderful day of FREE family-friendly fun at the Library Center!

GK: There are several other small geek conventions around the Springfield area. What makes LibraryCon different from other local cons?

JAE: We really focus on the authors and illustrators who make the wonderful comic books and novels we’re celebrating. We celebrate our local talent and bring in a few big names from other parts of the country.

GK: Tell us about the special event happening on Friday Night August 16th for LibraryCon .

JAE: We have a FREE concert featuring Harry and the Potters courtesy of our Library Foundation at 7:00 at the Library Center. Come dressed as your favorite Harry Potter Character and get ready to dance to punk songs all about the Harry Potter universe.

GK: The public library is a unique place to have to geek convention. Many have asked why would the library have a convention. What is the vision and drive for the Springfield-Greene County Library to host LibraryCon ?

JAE: 
The Springfield-Greene County Library District LibraryCon Committee wants to promote a lifelong love of books and reading. We can do that through LibraryCon by allowing our patrons to meet the people who write and draw these amazing books, creating opportunities for patrons to learn that this can be a great career choice, and bringing fans of these books together. Because we are a public library, we want this to be free for our attendees and that makes it really accessible to everyone; and accessibility is very important to us.

GK: Usually The Library Center is a quiet place to find a book and sit down and read. I have seen patrons reading the newspaper or enjoying a cup of coffee or having a nice casual conversation. LibraryCon brings a level of chaos and loudness to The Library Center which isn’t expected on most days. What is the reaction of your regular attending patrons to this 180 degree change for the day?

JAE: We post signs about a month ahead of time in the branch warning patrons that the Library Center will be noisy and crowded on the day of LibraryCon. Patrons who show up that day are still, for the most part, able to get books and use other library services as they need to. It’s just not a great place for quiet study on that day, but we have other branches you can visit if you need a quiet place to study!
It’s worked out amazingly well and that’s why we’re on our 5th year!

GK: Every year LibraryCon seems to get more attendance. What is your goal for attendance this year?

JAE: For the last three years we’ve had well over 5,000 in attendance over the course of the day. I don’t know that we have goals or that we can even fit any more in this space. If we top the 6,000 mark, we’re gonna need a bigger boat!

GK: There are a ton of great creative guests slated for LibraryCon. Tell us about a few and why you are excited that they are participating.

JAE: Eric Shanower is a New York Times best-selling cartoonist, author, illustrator, and published with Marvel Comics and BBC Television; he’s the author of Bronze Age. Cullen Bunn writes for Image, Oni Press, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse and many, many more. X-Men, DeadPool, Venom, Sixth Gun, and (my favorite) Harrow County name a tiny fraction of the work he’s published. Maia and Luna Cooper are sisters who write and illustrate Champions of Erendil with their own publishing company, Champion Comics. Gary Bedell is a local artist with more than 15 years of experience in the gaming, film/TV and design industries. He’s also part of the Graveyard Slaughter team which includes Cullen Bunn, Kevin Watkins, Javier Saltares, Adam McLaughlin, and Blacky Shepherd. L.L. McKinney is a fantasy author coming in from Kansas City. She’s written a book called Blade so Black which is an urban fantasy turning Alice in Wonderland upside down!

GK:  I know people are interested in the work hours and number of people needed to make LibraryCon happen. They are curious about when planning starts for the next year. Can you tell our readers what all goes into putting on a Convention like this?

JAE: We plan all year long for LibraryCon. It’s a labor of love by a team of about 10 dedicated library staff. We get a lot of support from the community in terms of donated time, panel presentations, and other support. We do have limited space so making the decision as to which exhibitors to accept each year is getting harder and harder. We had to turn away a lot of people this year. Putting LibraryCon together for our community is a LOT of work but it’s worth every minute of it. There is true joy in the Library Center on this day and that’s an amazing thing to see year after year.

GK: Cosplaying has become a major part of geek conventions. I know there are cosplay groups that will be in attendance along with individual cosplayers. What groups and individuals do you know about that will be in attendance?

JAE: We are happy to have DC Unlimited Cosplay, the Ultimate Cosplay League, Ghost Busters of the Ozarks, and Garrison 66!

GK: What would you like potential attendees to know when they walk through The Library Center doors for LibraryCon on Saturday?

JAE: If I greeted them at the door, it would literally go like this: “We are so glad you’re here! You’re going to have an amazing day! You get to hear incredibly talented and passionate people talk about their craft and their fandom. You’re going to find a wonderful new book to love and you’ll probably make some new friends while you’re at it. And if you don’t have a library card already, we can certainly help you with that. You make this day special so thank you for being here.”

 

The Springfield-Greene County Library is an amazing community resource for everyone.  They have everything from books to comic books to movies to check out. They have a Genealogy resources area. They have rooms for meeting.  There is also something special going on. They are here for the whole family and provide a fantastic service to all of the community. 

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