Published on May 11th, 2015 | by Chantale Pard
Anime Club: Enthusiasm, Patience, and Public Performance Rights
A Library Anime Club meeting can be as simple or as complex as you have the time and resources to dedicate to it. As an avid anime fan myself, I was so excited to take over the Anime reins at our branch when I started my job almost two years ago. Armed with exciting new ideas for activities and screenings, I went in with rose colored glasses. I dreamt of all the teens showing up, sitting down, and calmly working away at their pre-planned art projects before watching the pre-chosen episode of my choice.
This was not (and has never been) the way it worked out. The most important thing I’ve learned from hosting our Anime Club for the past two years is to expect enthusiasm! SO! MUCH! ENTHUSIASM! Of course, every teen (nay, human) is different. I have some regulars who are more quiet about their enthusiasm – but if you take the time to get to know these shyer teens, they’re usually just as excited to tell you about the new anime they’re binge watching.
For the most part, though, our program is a closed-door program. By that, I mean, there is screaming – a lot of screaming. The Anime Club at my branch has a roster of about 30 regulars who pop in and out depending on the month; we average about 15 to 20 youth each monthly meeting. Every time I’ve done any sort of trivia with pictures or theme songs (more on that another day) the group will literally squee at the top of their lungs any time they see even a picture or title card for a show they’re in love with – and that’s usually quite a lot of shows.
You’re going to need patience. Although my Thursday night staff knows to expect to hear squeals emanating from our program room on the first Thursday night of the month, I still frequently need to ask my Anime crew to take it down a notch. We are in a library after all!
It helps that I have my own passion for the subject, but don’t worry if you’re not a die-hard. With enthusiasm often comes a need to spread the word and if you ask an Anime Club member for an anime or manga suggestion, you will certainly get them in spades. Don’t fret if you don’t know much about the latest Anime shows or Tumblr memes. Their enthusiasm will give you the opportunity to learn from your group, and over time you’ll be able to talk-the-talk.
Speaking of my own enthusiasm, I will admit I was so excited to take over our Anime Club in the beginning that I had forgotten a cardinal rule of a great programmer – seeking community input. Programs are made sustainable by allowing your community to suggest, implement and then evaluate their ideas. Why would I assume I knew which episode would be the most exciting for them to watch? I quickly decided to let the group decide what to watch each week. Be forewarned: this has it’s pros and cons. That ever present excitement in the room often makes for teens talking over each other, trying to be the loudest to have their suggestion heard. There are often more suggested episodes than there is time in the program, too, which can lead to hurt feelings if your show wasn’t chosen.
I’ve dealt with the chaotic nature of episode choice in two ways. I believe that the regular members who return each month have come to trust and respect me. We’ve had conversations about raising your hand and everyone having a turn, and it seems to have helped (albeit, they sometimes still need a verbal reminder to display this behavior). I’ve also sent them a survey via email. This is a great way to collect anime screening suggestions or have everyone vote on which episode to watch next. I should note that email might seem a bit archaic for a young teen group, but I’ve never been able to get a social media suggestion from them that they all consistently use. So, even though we stick with email, your community could be avid Tumblr or Facebook users; just ask them what works best.
If you’re looking for more ideas, please make sure to check out my future Anime Club articles over the next few months – I’ll be talking about different crafts, games and events. Before we get there, though, I wanted to remind you that all of this enthusiasm might mean that you don’t even need to implement any of your planned crafts or games. It’s smart to have some ready to go, of course, but every great programmer knows to be adaptable and go with the flow of the group. There have definitely been multiple meetings where I’ve had a craft or game planned before our episode screening, but the teens came in so excited to see each other and discuss their latest favorite shows and fandoms; I’ve just let them talk/squee it out for a bit before popping on a group chosen episode.
Public Performance Rights!
Speaking of episodes – I should note that we currently have a free Outreach account with Crunchyroll.com. This provides us with the Public Performance Rights to legally show any anime episode from their site without infringing upon any copyright. All they ask is to provide them with the episode titles, youth age range and attendance numbers after each meeting, and to have at least two meetings a quarter to keep your account active. You can sign up for this here. Our Anime Club will also occasionally watch a full length anime movie if we can find one in our film license subscription service, but these are unfortunately few and far between (good luck finding Public Performance Rights on any Studio Ghibli movies! #LIbraryAnimeClubProblems).