Recently, I was on a panel with five other librarians—Summer Hayes and Claire Scott from the Seattle Public Library; Jackie Parker from Sno-Isle Libraries; and Emily Calkins and Whitney Winn from King Country Library System—at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. Our panel was titled “Awesome Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy.”
We had all been reading feverishly in the months leading up to the event, trying to find sf and fantasy books featuring strong women at the heart of the stories. This was a surprisingly challenging task. Sometimes, this was simply because a book or author one of us loved had already been claimed by a fellow librarian, sending us back to the drawing board. Since many of my colleagues on the panel were, or had been, youth librarians, they had no problem finding teen novels and series with strong female protagonists. But as an adult librarian, I struggled to find titles that fit the bill. In trying to feature women authors as well as women characters, I discovered how narrow the field is in this genre. But, finally, Geek Girl Con arrived and each of us had selected six books to booktalk to our audience.
Each panelist tried to distil the essence of each book in 60 seconds, and while we thought we would have time for a Q&A, we ran out of time at the end. What was lovely was that we cheered each other on and the audience exclaimed and shouted when they saw or heard something they liked. The 200 people who took time to listen were unbelievably warm and supportive, showing there are untapped audiences for what librarians have to offer.
Whitney created this brilliant Weebly page to showcase the books we talked about. Feel free to post suggestions for us to read and discuss next year!