Why Libraries Should Be Like Marvel Not DC
What would happen if we took a long look at things, made a concrete plan that allowed for wiggle room, and then went full speed ahead with showing the world that libraries are awesome and relevant and super cool, rather than reacting to critics?
Like what Marvel Studios has been doing vs what DC Entertainment.
Take a walk with me here, Padawan, and I will explain.
Marvel has been planning and plotting and looking over things well before Iron Man (2008) hit the screen. They were taking stock of what had happened before, what went well (X-Men) and what didn’t (Hulk, Elecktra, Ghost Rider ) and working on revitalizing their image and their pantheon. They had just released Hulk in 2003 and Tobey McGuire’s Spiderman trilogy in 2002-2007, and saw their numbers dwindling. Yet DC had launched Batman Begins with Christopher Nolan at the helm, and their numbers were skyrocketing. What was DC doing that they weren’t?
DC was hitting the hard core fans while getting edgier, and they had a plan with the trilogy.
So Marvel said, what if we do The Avengers? Forget trilogies, forget cross-staring, let’s launch a whole strategy where if it works we’re going through 2020. If it doesn’t work, we’re out three movies.
But if it DOES:
|Timeline from Point of Origin to The Avengers movie|
Thus, Marvel shot and released Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, with teasers in the media and in the movies that bigger things were coming. Iron Man had the teaser scene with Nick Fury asking him about the Avengers Initiative– and everyone was in an uproar. The Incredible Hulk paid tribute to the late Bill Bixby (something that Hulk didn’t), hidden and not so hidden mentions to Captain America, had Stark Industries throughout the movie, as well as Tony Stark talking to General Ross. They were BUILDING something. They had plans within plans to build that excitement, to keep you guessing, to keep comic fans and regular fans alike on board. Iron Man 2 had Captain America’s shield, reference to Thor, and a whole MAP of the Avengers.And Thor had teaser PROPS for not only Thor: The Dark World but for the way of the future.
And they’re still building. Thor: The Dark World has teasers not only of Loki but a major character for Guardians of the Galaxy.
Can you imagine the planning, engineering, writing, and thought that has had to go into this?
And DC is coasting on Nolan’s Batman trilogy, had a sub-par run with Man of Steel, and is now going to try Superman vs Batman with the current Superman but a new Batman. And still no Justice League, Wonder Woman, or any other movies in sight.
So what does this have to do with libraries, Christie?
Right now, libraries tend to plan like DC. Oh, yea, this is cool, let’s do Batman and let’s make him all dark because all our patronage is dark and into vampires and stuff, and it’ll be awesome. But then we’re done, and then it’s “What’s Next?” We get lost before we even get started, because we don’t have a long range plan- we don’t let the visionaries out of the box, we don’t let them generate the buzz, and don’t let them have the resources needed to get things moving. Libraries tend to clip wings instead of letting them fly.
We need to be working like Marvel- have everyone be doing their own stuff (like different movie directors) but working toward the common goal (massive awesomeness and pown of the market share), with check points where everyone comes together.
Instead of working separate, get communication going- have branches and the Main library work together, have adult services work in conjunction with youth, have reference and tech on the same page. Have teen services talk and share ideas, same with youth services- there’s no need to reinvent the wheel- share programs so that the creativity can flow. Take a look at the workplace- maybe it’s take for an organizational shift and people need to be readjusted, or staffing needs to be changed, or even job descriptions need to be realigned to reflect what people are really doing and what is needed in the organization.
If someone isn’t on board, then they need to find a new place to work, because the culture needs a shift. Libraries aren’t a stagnant place, and people need to be ready to change.
After all, just because Trevor said he was Trevor doesn’t mean he won’t come back as the Mandarin.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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