There have been a lot of trends at SXSW over the years. In 2012, there were the ill-fated “Homeless Hotspots,” in which homeless Austinites were given t-shirts reading “I’m a 4G hotspot” and a code that attendees could enter in order to connect to the Internet through a connection maintained by the homeless person wearing the t-shirt. (The campaign was widely maligned, but it paid its participants well.) Then there was the mid-aughts trend of brands bringing massive, global superstar artists like Lady Gaga, Prince, and Kanye West to Austin venues where only a handful of people could see them, creating a FOMO-based economy that led to degrading and/or dangerous attempts to get in.
This year, one trend is a little more chill: libraries. A week before the festival, two television brands establishing a big SXSW presence announced their book-lending-themed events. Comedy Central, which is bringing the entire Daily Show with Trevor Noah team to the festival, announced a separate event in the form of its award-winning Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library. The in-person activation at the historic Driskill Hotel on Sixth Street gives the formal Presidential Library treatment to the official public statements of the 45th president, creating a museum through which visitors can interact with and marvel at the online utterances of POTUS.
The library trend continues with FX, which is bringing its new series, What We Do in the Shadows, to the festival. Based on the 2014 film of the same name (which played at SXSW that year), the vampire-themed comedy is being promoted with “Vampire Libraries.” These aren’t libraries whose late fees continue to suck your blood until you bring back your books. Rather, the network will be stocking “Little Free Libraries”—those neighborhood displays full of take-a-book-leave-a-book reading materials that people create on their property (occasionally to the consternation of local authorities)—with vampire-themed novels and other books that connect with the themes of the show. The books will be found at Rainey Street’s El Naranjo, near the Austin Convention Center at Iron Works BBQ, and (naturally) at the Bat Bar on Sixth Street.
Libraries are unlikely to displace FOMO or music superstars as a defining SXSW trend—but nobody’s jumping off of a crane to get to them, either, so we’ll consider it a win for the festival.