By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Grafton – What does “The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green and the Grafton Public Library have in common? They both celebrate Nerdfighters. No, they aren’t bullies who fight “nerds.” Instead, they are people who unite to embrace their intelligence, uniqueness and eccentricities – while having a good time and making new friends. Earlier this year, the Grafton Public Library launched its Nerdfighters program for teens.
The growing “Nerdfighteria” sprouted from a 2007 experiment that Green, the New York Times bestselling author, co-created along with his younger brother Hank. For one year, the siblings decided to communicate via You Tube videos, instead of using texts or emails. The VlogBrothers channel they created became so popular that they still make videos for their fans. The concept of Nerdfighters was envisioned by the author and mentioned in one of his 2007 videos. From there, many online and off-line communities have formed. Some of them have even collaborated on projects to raise money for charity.
Last year, Grafton Public Library’s Teen Librarian Allison Cusher attended a Massachusetts Library System Teen Summit. She found it inspiring.
“One of the sessions was hosted by Jordan Funke – from Baird Middle School in Ludlow, Massachusetts – about hosting Nerdfighters at the library. She talked about the success of her program, and how it’s helped teens to find new friends, build their confidence and have fun,” said Cusher. “I wanted to host a program for teens to share their interests with fellow teens, and starting a Nerdfighters group would be a fun way to do it.”
Despite the challenge of what Cusher referred to as “an extreme lack of programming space,” a Jan. 31 library event successfully launched the program in a festive, informal atmosphere.
“I talked about the VlogBrothers and shared some of their YouTube videos. The teens started a poster to share what they get ‘nerdy’ about, and it is now hanging in the library,” Cusher noted. “We spent the rest of the afternoon talking and playing Killer Bunnies and Clue – both board games available to play in the library anytime. In the future we are hoping to include anime, duct-tape crafts and more.”
As the program grows, Cusher said she hopes the teens will “share what they are passionate about and have fun.”
“I’m hoping that, over time, teens will take a more active role in the program planning – whether they want to teach others how to play Magic: The Gathering or how they designed their Comic-Con costume,” she said.
Regardless of how the program evolves, Cusher is looking forward to being part of it.
“I’m most excited about giving teens an opportunity to share their interests and knowledge with others. I can’t wait to learn more about their favorite card games, anime, books and more,” she said.
Generally held during the afternoon of the last Saturday of each month, the next meeting will be from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 28. All teens, in grades six through 12, who would like to attend the meeting may register in the library, located at 35 Grafton Common, or email Cusher at [email protected]. More information is available on the library’s website, http://graftonlibrary.org.