June 16, 2020

Multiple State Library Organizations Launch Virtual Library Comic Convention (VLCC) in Partnership With BiblioLabs


Program is intended to meet summer reading needs for all ages during COVID-19

BiblioLabs, in partnership with statewide library partners in Minnesota, California, New Jersey, Montana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington, Kentucky, Rhode Island and West Virginia announced this week the availability of over 4,000 comics, graphic novels, and children's materials as part of an innovative program to make these materials freely available to all residents of those states through the entirety of the summer. The program is intended to provide digital resources in a simple and easy way and support statewide summer reading programs during COVID-19 social distancing. More eBooks will be released throughout the summer from additional children's, comic book, and science fiction publishers.

All of the involved partners are also cooperating on a virtual VLCC online event to be held this summer (details to be announced soon). That event, which will feature interactive sessions with some of the industry's leading talent as well as librarians talking about grassroots graphic novel creation and local zine publishing programs. The event is a collaboration with the canceled CoMIXgraphicCON, part of the Twin Cities Teen Lit Con (TLC) which attracts approximately 1,400 attendees. The TLC event was scheduled to happen in late April, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "When we had to cancel our event, we reached out to BiblioLabs to see if this project might help fill the gap for us and for other canceled events across Minnesota. They reacted quickly and we are now in the process of re-organizing around the new virtual format," said Sarah Hawkins, Project Manager at the Metropolitan Library Services Agency (MELSA).

"Firstly, we want to thank our valuable publishing partners who generously took the lead on driving the creation of this program," said Bibliolabs CEO Mitchell Davis. "We have worked on innovative eBooks models at the state level for years and this shines a light on the close collaborations between publishers and libraries that are emerging today. This program has the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of people and highlights the role libraries have always served in being a provider of information resources in a time of need."

All of the eBooks are available in an unlimited simultaneous use model and served to patrons via geolocation. "In the modern era, delivering and using statewide eContent resources should be as easy as catching an Uber, and we are proud to work with statewide library organizations and publishers adapting the digital library experience to modern user expectations. This model creates seamless support of information deserts throughout the state and ensures all states can provide a baseline eBook collection to all residents," Davis added. The VLCC collection will be free to libraries and patrons in participating states through August 31st, serving as a valuable tool in statewide summer reading program support for all libraries.

"We are happy to be working with our peer state library organizations to create this project," said OhioNET Executive Director Nancy Kirkpatrick. "the aim during this stressful time is to simplify how Ohio residents access high quality digital reading materials. As libraries we are competing for digital attention with mainstream media and projects like this remind people we are here to serve their information needs during a crisis and in everyday life."

Anyone living in the participating states can get to the full library by simply pointing a web browser at the web address for their particular state. A full list of participating states and links to the statewide libraries can be found here.