Convention Season

As a community resource for librarians and steampunk fans in all walks of life, we here at The Steampunk Library project want to connect and share with as many members of the community as possible. To that end The Steampunk Library project is active on Tumblr (follow at, sharing posts and steampunk art.

Recently Steampunk Library has also joined Twitter (@SteamLib), where we can share links from other steam-inspired people, like the Boston Metaphysical Society (@HMollyRosing), the Airship Ambassador (@airshipEmbassy), authors like Gail Carriger (@gailcarriger), and more. Follow the #steampunk hashtag and @SteamLib to get connected to the community.

Looking for some face-to-face cosplay filled interactions? August may be fast approaching but convention season is far from over!

I will be hosting a Steampunk Library panel in September at the first Steamposium Convention in Seattle Washington, September 26-28. For more info and badge prices visit their website, or their Facebook. Get your badges early to ensure you can see Steam Powered Giraffe LIVE in concert at the convention on Saturday night. Don’t know about Steam Powered Giraffe? Check out the review of them here.

Not in the Seattle area? Not to worry! Both TOR publishing and the Airship Ambassador keep up to date on the conventions happening around the US and Canada.

Been to a convention recently and want to share your experience with the community? You can share your con pics with us via Twitter, or send in your write up and pictures of your experience to and host it on the site.

Steam Powered Giraffe

Performers: David Bennett, “Bunny” Bennett, & Sam Luke

Media Type: Musical Group / Pantomime

Audience: All/ Family Friendly


Steam Powered Giraffe is an entertainment group, first and foremost. They mix original musical and vocal performance with turn of the century-styled robotic pantomime. Music style varies from folksy to soft rock to pop-covers. From the band’s FAQ page their influences include “The Band, ELO, The Beatles, Queen, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, The Mills Brothers, The Bee Gees, Amanda Palmer, Danny Elfman, Frank Sinatra, Radiohead, Muse… And the list goes on!”

The act includes full make-up and costume, plus mechanical movements whizzing, gear popping, and the occasional malfunction. Family friendly without feeling watered down, SPG offers a full artistic steam punk experience you can enjoy at home in your corset via their iTunes and their YouTube channel or get gussied up to watch them in person at any one of dozens of conventions across North America. When you inevitably decide to purchase their music, consider a physical CD over iTunes to get their original steam punk art filled lyric books.


Bottom Line: A great band that’s equal parts musical quality and visual performance.

Find It: and via YouTube:

Review: Snowpiercer

Review Submission by Amanda Bishop, MLIS

Title: Snowpiercer

Creator: Bong Joon-ho (director), Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson (screenplay); based on the graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette

Tags: ice age, ice, snow, global warming, Earth, leader, leadership, rights, trains, engineering, class, passengers, cargo, machine, engine, Movie, adults, rated R

Media Type: Film

Audience: Adults (18+) (film is Rated R)

Summary: Some seventeen-or-so years in the future, the remainder of human life on Earth lives on a single train, which is in constant motion across the planet. A global warming initiative taken on by world powers in 2014, of which the viewer learns in radio broadcast flashbacks at the beginning of the film, created a second Ice Age whose effects were so rapid that nearly everyone died. The Snowpiercer is the engine which sustains life for the wretched few that have managed to survive. This train hearkens back to a bygone time in which the (steam) engine was the pinnacle of modernity, although the Snowpiercer and its “eternal engine” is clearly vastly different in terms of its operation. As the vessel moves throughout this tale, the viewer sees it blast through ice formations in a snow-covered world, and learn increasingly more about this mysterious yet powerful conveyance right up until the end of the film.

While the engine itself may be the namesake and setting for the film, the story centers around the efforts of passengers of the “tail” of the train to better their conditions, led by Curtis (Chris Evans). The tail and its residents are unspeakably filthy, abused regularly, and the residents of these crowded and labyrinthine quarters get by on slippery-looking “protein” bars as their only source of food. Guarded ferociously by men in full military gear, occasional visits (and speeches) by Mason (Tilda Swinton), the conductor’s right-hand woman make it clear that the conditions for passenger cars more towards the front of the train are idyllic in comparison. Determined to fight against the injustices that are perpetrated upon the tail passengers, Curtis leads a blood-saturated charge to the front (just another in a long history of revolts) with the help of a drug-addled man named Namgoong Minsu and his daughter Yona. Interspersed with scenes of violent clashes (so fierce that this reviewer had to look away) are glimpses of how the other half lives – in luxurious comfort and good health. This constructed dichotomy between the haves and have-nots is not new, and divisions of humans predicated on class or socioeconomic standing in such a way also alludes to a more historic origin than the futuristic setting of Snowpiercer.

Bottom Line: Including this film in a list of steampunk resources may seem like kind of a stretch, as the engine isn’t steam-powered, but the class struggles and train setting decontextualizes the tale from its temporal situation.

Find It: In theaters

Welcome to the Steampunk Library!

Hello librarians, students, bookworms, and steampunk enthusiasts! My name is Constance and I’ll be your librarian.

This website was created, originally, as my final class project for my MLIS. I wanted to build a web resource for librarians and students who want to know more about steam literature and reader’s advisory, but that can also be used by those who are part of the culture and want to build it into their library programing. Thus Steampunk Library was born!

Here I’ll post programing ideas (my own and those from around the web), book reviews, book talks, movie reviews, and online resources for a variety of uses. I’ll also be featuring guest posts from my fellow librarians and children’s literature specialists.

Have a book review you want to submit? Have a programing idea you want to share? Have a question you need answered or a problem that needs solving? Submissions are enthusiastically asked for; see the submissions page in the top menu for details.

Happy Reading!

Around the World in 80 Days

Creator: Jules Verne (novel), David N. Titcher (screenplay), Staring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, and Jim Broadbent

Media Type: Feature Film, 120 minutes

Audience: Family Friendly



Phileas Fogg is a brilliant inventor living in Victorian London. His inventions fill his home with whistle-activated light bulbs, an automated fan system, and a steam-hydraulic vehicle for when he doesn’t want to wear his wheeled shoes around. After he discovers that man can travel at 50mph via experiments with steam-powered rockets, he goes to announce his discoveries to the Royal Academy of Science. The Royal members, though, are unimpressed. Desperate to earn the respect of his fellow scientists Fogg makes an incredible wager: if he can make it around the world in 80 days he replace Lord Kelvin and become the new head of the Academy. However, if he loses, he must publically denounce his inventions, destroy his laboratory, and never enter the Academy again. With the assistance of his newly acquired French-Chinese valet, Passepartout, Fogg sets out to complete his quest. The journey already promises to be difficult from the word go, but the sabotages set upon them by Lord Kelvin, as well as a mysterious assembly of Chinese assassins focused on Passepartout, this wager could cost Fogg more than he bargained for.


Bottom Line: Filled with steam powered inventions, colorful cravats, and a hilarious collection of unexpected guest appearances this movie is an all around delightful.


Read More:

Evan Butterfield Photography

Evan Butterfield is a photographer based out of California. His work covers a wide array of topics, but lately he’s found he has an exceptional eye for steampunk.

"Your Hair Wants Cutting" c2014
“Your Hair Wants Cutting” c2014

Starting with custom created costumes and accessories with models enthusiastic about dress-up, Mr. Butterfield’s finished pieces encompass the best of traditional and digital photography. The images begin as detail-oriented traditional photographs that are then digitally manipulated to create a unique, antiqued look. Many images are faded, other crinkled, and some so meticulously edited that they look like they were lost in a drawer for generations.

Originally trained in English and a holding a degree in Law, Mr. Butterfields’s inspiration comes from his passion for literature and the steampunk butterfly affect: the notion that things are so dramatically altered by one small technological change. He credits The Difference Engine and The Diamond Age as his gateway and various conventions as his visual inspiration. In all of his steampunk works, he represents what he calls the “triple goddesses” of this particular SciFi aesthetic: Curiosity, Progress, and Science.

“It all comes down to the stories being told,” he said during our lovely phone conversation, “re-imagined into photo reality”. This reimaging comes in a variety of formats, from his series of literary themed pictures to turning Victorian sexism on its head through a series of “Steampunk Beefcake” shoots.

Steampunk Vincent  c2014
Steampunk Vincent c2014

Even though his art is labeled SciFi, Evan Butterfield has a much more down to Earth feeling about the genre. “Despite all the gears steampunk is not divorced from reality,” he says, “its just playing with themes that have always been there – using them to connect.” This enthusiasm and social understanding of the esthetic come through with every image, and I personally cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.


Beauty and the Beast c2014
Beauty and the Beast c2014

Evan’s work is available for license or purchase via his online gallery,  or at FineArt America.

Read more about his process and stay up to date on projects by following his blog, Lens Caps.

Jeremiah Congleve, Reflecting  An informal portrait of young Master Jeremiah Congleve, Tertiary Journeyman at the Royal Aetheric Engineering Academy. In later life, Congreve’s work with filamental liquid phenomena would revolutionize phlebotic medicine, military strategy, and commercial air transport; but during his student and journeyman years he struggled with personal demons (of the psychological, rather than phantasmal variety), inappropriate social behaviours, and, as has been previously suggested, rare varieties of addiction. That he overcame these obstacles to become one of the first non-nobles to ascend to the Board of the Imperial College speaks volumes both for his manly character and, of course, for the class-blind and deeply democratic principles that have always been at the very core of the Royal Scientific order, if not always visible on its surface.
Jeremiah Congleve, Reflecting
An informal portrait of young Master Jeremiah Congleve, Tertiary Journeyman at the Royal Aetheric Engineering Academy. In later life, Congreve’s work with filamental liquid phenomena would revolutionize phlebotic medicine, military strategy, and commercial air transport; but during his student and journeyman years he struggled with personal demons (of the psychological, rather than phantasmal variety), inappropriate social behaviours, and, as has been previously suggested, rare varieties of addiction. That he overcame these obstacles to become one of the first non-nobles to ascend to the Board of the Imperial College speaks volumes both for his manly character and, of course, for the class-blind and deeply democratic principles that have always been at the very core of the Royal Scientific order, if not always visible on its surface.


Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Program Type: Workshop, possible series

Audience: Teens and Adults, groups up to 10 persons

Time Frame: One hour per session

Space Needed:

  • Tables and chairs
  • Computer and projector
  • Ideal: Tour of collections

Budget Considerations:

  • Staff time
  • Honorarium for guest speakers


The Federal Depository Library Program is a plan by the Federal Government designed to provide free, guided access to a variety of government publications. These include Hearings, Supreme Court decisions, and less spot-light publications like geographic studies, and Patent Office collections. For full details see the Government Printing Office site:


These collections offer incredible insight into US history, and it’s true, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Working in collaboration with your local government documents librarian, create a series of workshops highlighting the pieces of the collection that would be of value to steampunk writers, costumers, or just your general Victorian history buff. Topics to consider are:

  • The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office- crazy brilliant inventions from the Wild West to the elite leisure creations of Edwardian 5th Avenue. Research the technologies people hoped to create as a way to build your own steampunk worlds.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs collections – understand the realities of Natives in Victorian America and see the language authentic to the period.
  • Maps – Many Regional Depositories collect maps and other geographic publications. These show how regions of the US changed over time and how those changes affected the people living in those areas. Original copies may also include fold-out illustrations that were hand-created, a respectable form of employment for women of the day.
  • Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee- Started in 1869 as the Committee on Education and in 1884 through the mid-1900s it was known as the Education and Labor Committee these papers give insight into the mental and health state of the US. These realities add authenticity to any steampunk story.
  • US Code and State Statues- What laws were in affect in 1880 that aren’t now? What states had public decency laws regarding swimsuits? What about immigration in 1897? Searching through old copies of federal and state legal volumes can add the details needed to make every costume realistic and every story true to period.


Online Resources-

Find your local Depository:

FDLP Training:

American Library Association Government Documents Round Table:

NaNoWriMo Emergency Novel Finishing Kits

Program Type: Writing Kits

Audience: Adults, Teens

Time Frame: November

Space Needed: Display space for canisters

Budget Considerations:

  • Canisters
  • Instant Coffee Packets
  • Granola Bars
  • Pencils
  • Stationary
  • Staff Time


National Novel Writing Month – every November writers of all levels take the challenge to write a full novel (or at least a good chunk of one) in the month of November. The challenge is supported through social media campaigns, writing groups, and web tracking via The site also hosts postings related to writing help and organizes local events. As librarians, we can encourage writers to use the library as their writing space, research space, or just a place to come and get support as they take on hundreds of words a day. This project is designed to show that support while also spreading the word to those who may not have heard of NaNoWriMo. Images of canisters filled with tools to help writers have been floating around Tumblr and Pinterest, and the idea can be easily modified to help support Steampunk writers in November.

For each canister (likely a poster-tube, or for the thrifty a modified/sealed paper towel roll), instead of creating a generic kit, make them decorated and filled with cards with genre-specific sentence starters and other helpful pieces of inspiration. In addition to the coffee, pencils, and stack genre canisters might be filled with:


Steampunk: small pictures of Steampunk machines, note cards with quotes like “Steampunk creations may be mechanical, sculptural, or purely decorative… Whatever the application, the art celebrates a time when new technology was produced, not by large corporations, but by talented and independent artisans and inventors” from Art Donovan’s The Art of Steampunk (2011), tiny paper mustaches, top hats, and a small list of in house resources. The outside of the canister can be decorated with more paper top hats and closed with corset-lace styled ribbons.


Fantasy: A canister covered with a glittery paper dragon is attention grabbing no mater it’s location in the library. Filled with a wand, a list of online creature name generators, and quotes from J. K. Rowling, Tolkien, and Goodkind the magic is sure to start flowing.


Romance: A deep red canister filled with chocolates; who wouldn’t fall in love with a little chocolaty inspiration? Cards filled with synonyms for “love” (predilection, delight, adoration), pictures of the sunset, and a list ‘legitimate’ authors who also write romance (like Sabrina Jeffries who earned her PhD on James Joyce but makes her living writing romance) are sure to get blood pumping.


Children: NaNoWriMo isn’t just for grown-ups! This idea can also be easily modified for children, particularly during a day camp. Give each child a canister filled with a sentence starter (“Then suddenly the door opened”, etc), a few pictures, and a character name. Give them time to write a story using all the pieces from their canister and have them share with the group.


Online Resources:

Victorian Movie Monsters

Program Type: Film Series/Book Group

Audience: 13+

Time Frame: Varies

Space Needed: Film viewing room, book group meeting room

Budget Considerations:

  • Film showing rights, if applicable
  • Custodial for rooms
  • Popcorn/snacks for movie nights


When you think of monsters who comes to mind? Frankenstein? Dracula? The Victorian monsters became the staple of the silver screen for a reason: their stories are equal parts terror and intrigue. Since there are so many film options now the monsters make themselves an easy pick for a mini-film festival.

The festival can be stand-alone, or tied in to other programs, like a book group. The original story behind the films are very short (Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Portrait of Dorian Grey) which are well suited for teen readers. For adults Frankenstein, Dracula, or a Jack the Ripper novel lend themselves to longer book group discussions. The film showings are a great way to stir up interest and advertise the book groups to an audience with a noted interest.

Book Spine Poetry

Program Type: Book Display

Audience: Varies

Time Frame: Passive

Space Needed: horizontal book display space – or image display space

Budget Considerations: none (unless printing images of the poems for display)

Spine poetry is a display that has been floating around Flickr, Pinterest, and Tumblr. It’s very simple: you take the titles of books, as displayed by their spines, and create poems by stacking books so their titles create a small poem, joke, or story. For example three books titled Through the Looking Glass, Bad Cat, and Go Ask Alice become a short story by stacking them to read Bad Cat/ Through the Looking Glass?:/ Go Ask Alice. While this isn’t a steampunk only display it is a way to show the creativity of steampunk titles and the visual aspect of their covers by incorporating them into these spine-poems. It also shows the genre to people who may not normally look at them. These displays can be of the physical books, stacked on top of the shelves, or photographs of the book stack can be displayed on the walls. This would be a fun project for School Librarians who have TAs, or public libraries that have young volunteers. It allows creativity and is a great way to get familiar with your collection.


  • Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
  • What Could Go Wrong? by Willo Davis Roberts
  • War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells