Your Library's Biggest Fan... fiction
Fifty Shades of Grey’s 2011 publication gave fanfiction some of its greatest exposure to date. If you were working in a public library at the time, you know it is hard to underestimate how popular that book was with library patrons. Many of you, however, may not have known the title and its equally popular sequels was originally conceived as Twilight fanfiction. In fact, you may find yourself wondering what fanfiction even is, precisely.
At the beginning of October, we hosted our Fall Staff Training Symposium where we covered a number of the trends identified as part of the American Library Association’s Libraries Transform campaign, including “Fandom.” We had the privilege of hearing our speaker, Pat Wagner, share with us information and resources concerning fandom and fanfiction. Meanwhile, the November/December 2016 issue of American Libraries magazine has just arrived in our offices and the cover declares, “Fan Fiction: Connecting with Teens.”
Fanfiction is definitely hot, which means if you don’t know what it is, it is time to find out! American Libraries Magazine provides a pretty good definition: “Fan fiction (often abbreviated “fanfic”) is fiction based on an existing work, such as a novel, television show, or movie.” The magazine goes on to note that fanfic may create new relationships, characters, and settings for these established works, and may sometimes play with known qualities of canonical characters, such as their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or abilities
Both Pat Wagner and American Libraries mention one important myth about fanfic: that it is always Rated R (an idea, unfortunately, that the success of Fifty Shades has only reinforced). However, Pat shared with us that although the relationships are often central to fanfiction, it need not be in E.L. James territory. American Libraries magazine points out that many of the more popular fan-fiction websites provide ratings systems – people are interested in different aspects of the fanfic culture! Pat shared some of these popular sites with us as well. If you aren’t familiar with any fanfic, you could take a peek at Archive of Our Own, or FanFiction.net.
And because fanfiction, like many other occupations or hobbies, has a language all its own, both the magazine and Pat shared a glossary of important terms in the fanfic world. Do you know what it means to “ship” someone? Is a “headcannon” some kind of weapon? Book Riot wonders, in an article from last fall, if you can read this sentence: “My friend ships them as her OTP but I just read this crossover RPF WIP that introduced a new bit of fanon and my headcanons are exploding!”
No? Then you might want to check out the Book Riot Beginner’s Guide to Fanfiction Terminology or, if you are ready to delve deeper, this very comprehensive list from a fanfiction author, Moonbeam’s Predilections.
Although the American Libraries cover focuses on teens, people of all ages read and write fanfiction. Another ALA trend we talked about in our Staff Training workshop was that of “emerging adulthood” and they are part of a difficult-to-capture demographic that can be into fanfic in a big way. One of the American Libraries magazines teen fanfiction groups morphed into an adult fanfiction group which was “even more successful in some ways.”
There are lots of ways libraries can get involved with this trend. Read up and share to help you connect with your patrons. Host a writers group. Workshop some stories or even host a fanfiction contest. Meanwhile, we will continue to help you understand this and other new trends, assisting you in the ever-evolving landscape that is the library.
Cassondra Vick, MLIS
Technology Educator, SWON Libraries
Board Games, Networking and FotoFocus
Join your CAHSLA, SLA and SWON colleagues for an evening of fun.
When: Wednesday, November 16th
5:30 to 8:15 pm
Where: Lloyd Library and Museum
917 Plum Street, Cincinnati OH
Cost: $9.00 for box lunch
- Enjoy the FotoFocus exhibit of Curtis G. Lloyd’s travel photographs & the art inspired by his photography
- Bring your favorite board games
- Eat, network, and play board games with library colleagues
Please RSVP by Thursday 11/10 to Cara Yurkowski with your food selection , chips or pretzels with your sandwich & whether you are bringing a board game.
Select a box lunch catered from Cincinnati Cooks Catering, a Social Enterprise of the Freestore Foodbank. Each box includes a pickle spear, a sweet & salty chocolate chip cookie & 8oz water bottle.
- Tasty Turkey Gobbler (Roasted turkey w/ cranberry relish, white cheddar & spring mix)
- Veggie Wrap (Sautéed mix of vegetables, homemade roasted red pepper hummus, spring mix in wheat wrap)
- Roast Beef with Smoked Gouda (Oven roasted tenderloin of beef, Smoked Gouda, tomato, spring mix & a hint of creamy horseradish sauce)
Hope to see you there!