April 15, 2014

Librarian Brings Bouchercon to Cleveland—and $1M+ to Its Economy

Librarians attend book related conferences whenever they can, and Bouchercon, the oldest and largest mystery convention, always has a few librarian attendees. But Marjory Mogg, readers’ advisory librarian at Euclid Public Library in an inner ring suburb of Cleveland, OH, decided to take things a step further by bringing the conference to Cleveland. The Cleveland Bouchercon 2012, which was held October 4-7, brought in about 1500 mystery fans, authors, and publishers, who left $1-2 million behind when they returned home after four days of festivities.

Bouchercon, an all-volunteer organization named after famed mystery critic Anthony Boucher (rhymes with voucher), has held a conference annually since 1970 in various cities. Bouchercon has strict rules. The organization relies on volunteers to prepare a bid for their city, while the Bouchercon standing committee oversees the bids and goes through a vetting procedure to make sure the event will be successful. Mogg stresses that Bouchercon is a fan conference, not a library conference, so she was very careful to adhere to the bylaws of the organization and to operate as a fan rather than the representative of a particular institution.

The administration of Mogg’s library paid for her to attend her first Bouchercon convention in Baltimore in 2008, where she discovered that the event had never been held in Ohio. Her library also allowed her the time off for subsequent Bouchercons and other library conferences so that she could speak to authors. In 2010, in San Francisco, she presented her bid for the Cleveland convention, and when she won, her library allowed her the time off needed to run the conference, which meant supervising a core team of about a dozen volunteers, who in turn supervised many more.

Some other Cleveland libraries and librarians enthusiastically participated in the conference in various ways, including putting up displays in their libraries, volunteering to help, booking authors to speak, allowing staff to attend, providing venues, or even sponsoring events. The main Cleveland Public Library—within sight of the conference’s headquarters hotel—sponsored a Nancy Drew scavenger hunt, a talk by author Linda Fairstein, and several displays. The opening ceremonies, with over 1000 in attendance, were held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the Cleveland lakefront, which one Bouchercon board member called the best venue the conference has ever had for its opening celebration. The Private Eye Association’s Shamus Awards were presented during a dinner cruise on Lake Erie.

Mogg hopes that more librarians will attend future Bouchercons, emphasizing that it’s a great way to mingle with authors, and if the event is held in your area you may be able to piggyback onto the event by contacting authors who will be attending for possible events to be held in your library.

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Cynthia Orr teaches Readers’ Advisory Service at the Kent State University School of Library Science, edits the Reader’s Advisor Online blog, and serves as a contributing editor for LJ’s Collection Development column.

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