When I started as the Teen Services Librarian at the Hancock County Public Library in 2013, one of the first things I noticed about HCPL teens was their love for comics and manga. My desk is located next to the teen room, parallel to our comic and manga shelving. Day after day at 3:30 p.m. teens would flock to that section and take over the entire space in the teen room. Inspired, I started a monthly comic book club and anime/ manga club – which just celebrated its 1st birthday!
During our clubs, teens discuss the respective genres. Many create their own art or have started drawing their own comic/ manga panels. Numerous teens expressed their interest in making comics at the library.
Our library uses the yearly Collaborative Summer Library Program themes, and this year’s focus is superheroes. While planning for Summer Reading 2015, superheroes and villains were dancing in my head. Teen Tech Week, Summer Reading, and the wishes of our library’s teens came together and formed a program plan. The grant funds awarded from YALSA and Best Buy were used to purchase 10-Wacom Intuos digital drawing tablets equipped with comic-making software.
The goal of the Creating Comics program is for teens come to the library during weekly open computer lab hours (Monday – Wednesday, 3 – 6 p.m.) to practice and master creating digital artwork and comics. I staff the lab, so teens can ask questions about using the tablets or the software. Teen Tech Week was a great success. We had eager teens in everyday to work with the drawing tablets, and they stayed the entire duration of the program. A total of thirty-five teens used the drawing tablets during our three-day Creating Comics kick-off. Since Teen Tech Week, we’ve consistently had five teens on drawing tablets daily during open lab. We’ve seen several short comics completed and fantastic artwork. We are also in contact with local high school art teachers and STEM educators who are helping direct students to the library to give as many teens the opportunity to use this new technology. We plan on taking a drawing tablet with us to schools when we do summer reading talks to promote the Creating Comics program.
Between now and June, teens can use the tablets to develop their artwork for personal portfolios and college submissions. They can also start working on their own comics. During Summer Reading (June – July) we will be running a weekly Creating Comics program where teens will collaborate with their peers to create a comic storyboard, characters, and dialogue. Together they will create weekly web-comics that we’ll publish on the library’s teen webpage. Teens will be learning a new technology, improving their artistic skills, and learning how to work in a drawing team.
These tablets give teens the opportunity to work with technology and software they will encounter in college and the professional world. This drawing lab is the first experience many teens will have to this technology. We hope to reach as many teens as we can who are interested in careers in art, graphic design, or just looking to be inspired.
We are so thankful to YALSA and Best Buy for funding our Teen Tech Week and continuing programs through the summer. This grant has and will continue to make a huge impact on the artistic growth of Hancock County, Indiana teens.
You can follow Sarah and teen updates at Hancock County Public Library on Instagram or Twitter @HCPLibraryteens. Check out our web-comics over the summer at http://hcplibrary.org/teen/.