Library embraces fandom with fall programs

This fall, Heights Libraries will host a series of programs that celebrate the books, movies and cultural phenomena that have drawn people in and inspired followers to transcend the original piece and make it their own.

“Few among us are new to the experience of seeing a favorite TV show get cancelled, or reading an enthralling series to its finale and longing to stay in touch with that world,” said Greg Osborn, adult services librarian. “Whether it’s sports, music, art, film, or a thrilling read, die-hard fans have expanded on the stories they love through the development of discussion groups, fan fiction and even cosplay.”

While fan culture might seem a product of the Internet age, wherein online forums teem with theories dissecting every plot twist, fandom dates back to the turn of the century, with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of his iconic character Sherlock Holmes. Early fans of the deductive detective were not satisfied just reading the books; they took matters into their own hands, immersing themselves in his world by designing their own mysteries in homage to Holmes himself. And with that, the fan was born.

“At the end of the day, people who appreciate books and movies can put them aside and not think about them. They can say, ‘I like that, but it’s time to move on with my life’,” said Osborn. “Fanatics, on the other hand, live and breathe their chosen subjects. They become a part of the legacy of the story, and in doing so, the story never has to end.”

Heights Libraries will embrace fan culture by hosting 20 programs about subjects people can’t seem to let go of, including film screenings, book discussions, a trivia night, and a gaming series.

“We are hoping to reach those people who want to share their passions or perhaps explore new ones with members of the community,” said L.P. Coladangelo, adult services associate. “There’s nothing more contagious than enthusiasm, and we want to give fans the opportunity to celebrate what it is they love and appreciate about a particularly compelling story.”

Programs will include book discussions of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and Watership Down by Richard Adams, a study group at the Cleveland Museum of Art on the topic of fans and fanatics in the arts, sports- and musical- themed movie nights, and an open-mic Harry Potter fan fiction night.

The 1986 film "Little Shop of Horrors," showing Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the University Heights branch, is based off of the 1982 off-Broadway musical, which is itself based on a 1960 movie of the same name. The film has spawned fan fiction, a cartoon show, yearly screenings and multiple new musical openings on and off Broadway.

“Fandom is a great way to bring people together and inspire creativity,” Osborn explained. “It’s always exciting when you find a group of people that you can completely connect with about a subject, whether totally fantastical or a reflection of our everyday lives. And that’s what the library is really about.”

For a full schedule of Heights Libraries fandom-inspired programs, visit

Isabelle Rew

Isabelle Rew is the community engagement associate for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:27 PM, 10.01.2019