I’ll admit, the thought of starting an Anime Club for my library branch was a little intimidating at first. The last time I had seriously watched any anime was when I was in high school, in the late 90’s. Needless to say, a lot has changed about the industry. New genres, styles, and new performance rights rules. Oy vei. I had no clue where to start.
Luckily, the collective brain over at the YALSA listserv YA-YAAC had lost of suggestions. My favorite resource so far is probably Operation Anime, a DVD request service from the Funimation studio. They send you 1 DVD a month to view at your leisure. They always send you the first disc of season 1 which has 6-7 episodes to hook in your viewers. The series selection is pretty impressive (considering you’re getting titles from only one studio) and runs across a good many genres. The series tend to be newly released (and probably unfamiliar to most of your teens) so one can imagine why Funimation might want feedback on these hot off the presses series. They also let you keep the DVD’s to start building your own in-house anime library.
And the best part?
It’s absolutely free! (My favorite price!) All you need is an e-mail address connected to a library or school. Funimation also asks for viewer feedback in the form of short surveys. While this may sound tedious, I was shocked to find out just how much my teens enjoyed telling Funimation exactly what they thought of the new series (oh the power!)
Another great resource, especially if you’re looking for inexpensive anime and manga goodies to use for prizes, is RightStuf.com. They’re an anime superstore and fairly frequently have great sales on all sorts of anime related merch.
I also highly recommend getting in touch with local anime enthusiast groups, especially ones that organize conventions in your area. About a year and a half ago I approached a group that put together a yearly convention in Southern Nevada with the idea of running an info table in their vendor room to spread the good word about libraries and FREE manga! Instead of a table in the vendor room, they asked me if I’d like to host a program during the convention. They also kindly asked if my library would be interested in hosting their monthly anime screenings. Screenings that draw between 60 and 80 people each month. Screenings where they would provide their own equipment and performance rights. Screenings that would cost the library nothing more than freeing up our large program room the second Saturday of each month. My reply was nothing short of “heck yes!” Moral of that story: It never, ever hurts to ask.
So now, with my little library’s anime club reaching it’s 2 year anniversary, we have 20-25 teens enjoy our anime club each month. Hooray! It’s probably one of my favorite programs because not only are the teens who attend fantastic (they always offer to clean up and put away chairs!) but once you get into a rhythm, it’s easy as pie. I’m in the process of planning a CosPlay contest to host later in the year, possibly a fan art contest too. I’ll keep you updated when it happens!