Teen Zone Comic Con at Palm Springs Public Library Returns
By Crystal Harrell
If you’ve been keeping track of the Palm Springs Comic-Con Facebook page, you might have noticed our announcement that we will be partnering with the Palm Springs Public Library to host their 2016 Teen Zone Comic Con tomorrow, May 19, at 3:30 p.m. in the library’s Learning Center. The event is directed towards tweens and teens in 6th-12th grade, but the general public is welcome to attend.
The TZ Comic Con was first held in 2014 and is returning this year under the reins of Teen Services Librarian Shelly Longoria of Palm Springs. Being an avid fan of conventions and having attended many including Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con over the years, Longoria wanted to bring that sense of self-expression to the desert.
“For teenagers, San Diego and Los Angeles can seem very far away, and cons are expensive to attend. So, I decided to bring some of the action home to the Library for the teens to experience first-hand. My small 2014 event consisted only of giving teens swag-bags, and letting them take their pick of items I had brought back from various conventions I had attended,” explains Longoria. “Since ‘Comic-Con’ is a new buzz-word in Palm Springs, I decided to have another event this year, and to go big!” adds the teen services librarian.
Although Shelly Longoria may be the tour de force behind TZ Comic Con, she cites many other colleagues who aided in the creation of the event. “With the encouragement of our Library Director, Jeannie Kays, I have a great deal of staff participation, assistance, and input. We are coming together to create a major Palm Springs Library event, which we hope to make an annual tradition. Library staff member Yrene Navarro, another intrepid con attendee, has brought materials to decorate the room from her past years attending San Diego Comic-Con. Staff member Krystle Vega was quick to put me in touch with Alex Callego, a personal friend of hers, and I am very lucky and grateful for his participation and contributions from Palm Springs Comic-Con,” states Longoria.
She also reveals that Youth Librarian Nancy Valdivia will be there supervising the event for younger attendees while additional assistance will come from Teen Zone volunteer Sadejah Davis and two other volunteers from the Friends of the Palm Springs Library group, Laura Miller and Barbara Stanford, to help TZ Comic Con run smoothly.
The 2016 TZ Comic Con promises to appeal to everyone from all walks of fandom, with an Artist Alley where local artists will be drawing sketches to give away, prize raffles by the Palm Springs Library and Palm Springs Comic-Con, and free pizza and refreshments while supplies last. A cosplay/costume contest will also be held at 4:30 p.m. The contest is open to children and teens, but youth and teen groups will be judged separately, with a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize for each of the two groups. Prizes will include gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Regal Theaters, as well as a special swag-bag.
“Everyone needs to know that libraries are still a vital part of our digital world. This is an especially important message for young people. For them, the library should be a place they want to go, not just a place they have to go,” says Longoria. “Events like TZ Comic Con, our Summer Reading Program, and other occasions held throughout the year demonstrate that the Palm Springs Library is an awesome place to be. In addition, everyone should understand that storytelling in a linear, graphic format, such as comics, graphic novels, or manga, is reading and does support literacy for all ages.”
The Palm Springs Public Library’s mission to promote literacy and rejuvenate public interest in library visitation is also fueled by its other upcoming programs. “Read for the Win!” is the theme of this year’s Summer Reading Program during June and July, and the TZ Comic Con swag-bags will include more information about the program. It is noted that the grand prize for the Summer Reading Program this year is a Microsoft Surface Pro. Another event taking place this summer is an event for teens featuring the popular sports-themed anime, Haikyuu!!, as well as an artist who will give attendees in 6th-12th grade lessons on how to draw cartoon and manga characters.
To learn more about the TZ Comic Con and other programs at the Palm Springs Public Library, visit www.palmspringslibrary.org. With the public’s help and support, Shelly Longoria believes that the Teen Zone Comic Con will become an annual event that grows every year to superhero proportions.