CONNECTION To offer teens––especially those who lack access to or feel underrepresented by many comic conventions and fandoms––a chance to connect, share, and discover.
DIVERSITY To introduce teens to diverse creators who are disrupting the status quo.
AGENCY To empower teens to use their creative passion to imagine better words, expose injustice, and drive social change.
It all started with a summer of quarantine.
Young Adult Librarian and self-described comic nerd, Melissa Bennett, missed the teens who hung out at Randolph’s Turner Free Library every day.
Then ZAP! POW! BAM! She had an idea. An end-of-summer, all virtual Comic Convention that would give Randolph teens—and teens in other Massachusetts communities—a chance to celebrate their fandom while social distancing from couches, bedrooms, and kitchen tables. Even better than an in-person Convention, which is pricey to attend, this one would be completely free and open to teens of all backgrounds.
With support from LITT, The Library Initiative for Teens and Tweens, and an ace team—Alex Remy from Springfield, and Young Adult Librarians from Brockton, Holyoke, Lawrence, Marshfield, Peabody, Waltham, and Worcester—ACTIVATE was born.
The YA librarians gathered presenters for their first-ever virtual Comic Convention who reflected the racial and ethnic diversity of their towns. And in a summer when Black Lives Matter protests were bursting onto the streets, they hoped ACTIVATE would inspire teens to turn their fandom into activism.
ACTIVATE has something for everyone. It’s a mix of fun, hands-on workshops on topics like fanfiction, worldbuilding, gaming, and superhero fitness, and awesome panels featuring diverse groups of talented creators. In 2021, look for these new offerings: teen-led games, a Discord channel, and Artist Alley, where teens can showcase their own artwork.
The ACTIVATE 2021 team includes children’s and young adult librarians employed by public libraries in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Like our library teen rooms, ACTIVATE is a safe, welcoming space for teens of all backgrounds. All panels are moderated and teens’ video will be turned off during the sessions.
ACTIVATE 2021’s partner libraries and organizations are:
Forbes Library in Northampton, MA
Peabody Institute Library in Peabody, MA
Robbins Library in Arlington, MA
Turner Free Library in Randolph, MA
Ventress Memorial Library in Marshfield, MA
Waltham Public Library in Waltham, MA
Windsor Public Library in Windsor, CT
LITT, the Library Initiative for Teens and Tweens, an independent project to support library programs and spaces for teens and tweens in under-resourced and diverse Massachusetts communities.
Need WiFi Access?
We are committed to helping teens in underserved communities who may not have WiFi or access to a device attend ACTIVATE. During this time of COVID-19, library reopening protocols are shifting from week to week. We cannot guarantee that every Host Library will be open to the public. However, we encourage teens who want to attend ACTIVATE but need access to WiFi and/or a device to contact one of the Host Libraries and speak to a Teen Librarian who can register you for ACTIVATE over the phone and put you on a list.
During the week of ACTIVATE, we will reach out to teens who have requested access to WiFi and/or a device in an attempt to coordinate a way for them to attend ACTIVATE. We will also post updates to this page and our social media accounts as to each library’s opening status prior to the convention. Some libraries may have computers available in the building reserved for teens on the day of the convention. Other libraries may be able to provide free WiFi, access to hotspots, and/or access to devices for checkout.