F/NF Crossover Displays

Program Type: Display

Audience: Teens

Time Frame: Passive

Space Needed: Display board or wall space

Budget Considerations:

  • Paper materials for display
  • Staff time for creation
  • Staff time for book lists/book pulling


This is a display aimed at bridging the gap between fiction and non-fiction. Many Steampunk books are based on a historical reality, and then they alter and bend that reality to fit the author’s intentions. For many readers (myself included) part of the joy of steampunk is seeing the changes made and what stays true to history. For many teens, though, there may not be as much background understanding of the historical reality to fully appreciate the nuanced changes: this board is aimed at bridging that gap. Additionally, this board can be important for librarians working in communities with Common Core English classes where there is a high expectation for nonfiction reading by teens. By showing the connection between fiction and nonfiction librarians can tap into an expressed interest (steampunk or speculative fiction) and present nonfiction content in that same interest. Depending on the books pulled this can also be used for WWI and Civil War specific books.

Online Resources:

  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld paired with The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World by Greg King, Sue Woolmans
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest paired with Seattle Underground by William Speidel
  • Wild, Wild West (film) with A Lady’s Experiences in the Wild West in 1883 by Rose Render

Victorian Tea Time

Program Type: Family/Snack Time

Audience: Family, 10+ participants

Time Frame: 1 hour

Space Needed: Open space with tables and chairs

Budget Considerations:

  • Snacks
  • Tea
  • Plates and cups
  • Clean up


Tea time is a simple idea with lots of ways to modify it to fit your library.

  • Do you offer snack time for school kids? Add a little Victorian flair by talking about etiquette and letting the kids play make-believe. Read a steampunk short story during the snack.
  • Do you have a book club that meets regularly? Host a public meeting (preferably the first meet up) with tea, top hats, and your first discussion of your group’s Steampunk book selection.
  • Is there a convention coming to your town? Offer a pre-convention meet up for the locals to have tea, show off their costumes, and get excited for the event. Use the meet up as a chance to highlight your collection’s books on costume construction, crafting, and DIY jewelry.

Adventure Book Board

Program Type: Display

Audience: All

Time Frame: Passive

Space Needed: Display board or wall space

Budget Considerations:

  • Paper, lettering, and adhesive for display
  • Staff time to create images
  • Staff time to create book lists/Pull books


Modified from the “Where Would Poe Go?” board at the Enoch Pratt free library (view the image via Fliker here https://www.flickr.com/photos/enochprattlibrary/6195747384/).

This board would highlight nonfiction Victorian and Steampunk adventure books in your collection. Using images of classic landmarks (Big Ben, Eiffle Tower, Pyramids) paired with a question like “Where Will Adventure Take You” or “Where Will You Go?” or using a classic Victorian figure like “Where Would Verne/Tesla/Poe Go?”. This is a chance to draw attention to the visual side of steampunk literature by include the image of a large mechanical dirigible, balloon, or flying machine passing over the landmarks. Depending on your space you can have physical copies of the books underneath the colorful board, or have printed copies of the book covers attached to it.

Online Resources:

  • A Lady’s Experience in the Wild West in 1883 by Rose Pender
  • Fine Young Turks (Galvanic Century #7) by Michael Coorlim
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (book and film editions)
  • Blameless by Gail Carriger
  • Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
  • The Volcano Lady: Vol. 1 – A Fearful Storm Gathering by T. E. MacArthur
  • Shanghai Steam edited by Renee Bennett

Steampunk Claytraptions, a project developed by Heidi Boyd

Program Type: Art/Crafting

Audience: Teens and Adults, approx 10-15 per session

Time Frame: One hour minimum, two better

Space Needed: Table space for materials and participants

Budget Considerations:

  • Space – does your library have a space with enough tables and chairs?
  • Clay- will you ask people to bring their own or provide clay?
  • Mechanical Pieces – these can be hinges and screws from a hardware store, gears and wire from old clocks, but your best bet would be jewelry and scrapbook pieces from JoAnn’s, Oriental Trading Company, or local craft stores. A small fee could also be charged to cover costs.
  • Instructor – Do you feel confident leading the time?

Other options for instructors include recruiting a teen leader who may need volunteer service hours and education/library students who need credit for volunteer service or better yet who may need experience planning and running hands on workshops.



This program is all about creativity! Using craft clay and mechanical odds and ends participants create their own original pieces of art. From clay birds with hinge wings to watches turned into Steampunk bracelets, a mixture of red, orange, gold, and brown clay with gears, wire, screws, and brass tacks make for truly steampunk inspired designs. By providing a variety of components users can build based on their own comfort level. Completed projects could include:

  • Original clay pieces with incorporated mechanical pieces
  • Watches/Necklaces/Bracelets modified with clay and gears
  • Picture frames with clay and wire steampunk motif edging
  • Fridge magnets refaced with clay and decorated with spiral wire.

This program is safe for teens and adults, and possibly for children with 1-to-1 adult supervision, since the choking hazard of the small parts is a serious consideration. The project requires no previous knowledge and allows users to walk away with a completed piece of art. I would suggest hosting this project before holidays like Mother’s Day/ Father’s Day/ Grandparent’s Day to allow users to create custom gifts at low to no cost.


Online Resources:

Find example pictures from the original blog posting by Heidi Boyd here – http://heidiboyd.blogspot.ca/2011/05/steampunk-claytraptions.html


Truly Victorian

Authentic Costume Patterns



Truly Victorian is an incredible resource for any Steampunk costumer. A reliable web catalog of Victorian pattern pieces is hard to come by, let alone one that can match their selection and pricing. They have pieces ranging from pre-Civil War through to the turn of the century – and not just dresses! While dresses may be the most fun, a good catalog needs to have something to offer to all costumers. Truly Victorian has hats, shirts, undergarments, men’s wear, and a few coats. These patterns, though, do not look like conventional sewing patterns. From their “about us” section “Our patterns are full scale and hand drafted to fit the modern body, using historical principles and techniques. They are not redrawn copies of original patterns, nor are they modern ideas of what a historical garment looked like. All the seam lines and styles are historically accurate to each period. These pattern are for historical clothing (not costumes) and are perfect for reenactments and special events were authenticity is desired so give yourself time to adjust measurements/layouts and other minor oddities.

Corset Story

Online Superstore for Costume Pieces



Corset Story is a UK based corset and costume piece retailer.

Specializing in full-steel boned waist-cinching corsets, Corset Story is a high quality place to start (and finish) your costume piece shopping. They offer a wide range of pieces and are my go to for Waist Training and Full Steel Corsets – these pieces offer the tightest binding and fullest shaping. They come in solid colors to wear in a traditional style (that is, under your clothes) or highly decorated to display openly. For this corset type be sure to follow the sites sizing recommendations to make sure you can be as comfortable as possible. I also suggest only purchasing pieces that include a “modesty panel” which is a piece of the corset fabric that lays against your back under the lacing. This is important for two reasons. First, it adds a lot of comfort to the piece since the laces can’t rub againt skin. Second, if you are fully laced your skin on your back may crease, which is not only uncomfortable but unattractive, a modesty panel covers this and gives you a single, solid print/fabric pieces to show off your tight-lacing.

Corset Story also sells burlesque-style pieces, skirts, fascinators (hair accessories), and “fashion” corsets. Fashion corsets are usually made with acrylic boning, which is flexible and offers no waist reduction but still gives a corseted look.

Wild, Wild West

Creator: Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Staring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, and Salma Hayek

Media Type: Feature Film, 106 minutes

Audience: Family



When the American Civil War came to an end, the nation was teeming with gunslingers, saloons, and angry defeated confederate soldiers. One soldier, Arliss Loveless, refuses to accept the new order of the US and begins building a heavily weaponized machines. His machines, based partially on the design for his own steam-powered wheelchair, are the support for his plan to force US president Ulysses S Grant to divide the states once again. Set to stop him are an unwilling pair: gunslinger Capt James West and US Marshal Gordon. The two are facing an uphill battle again ex-Confederate troops as Capt West struggles to maintain authority as a black officer in the prejudiced South and the steam-hydrolic technologies may just be more than the pair can handle. Assisted by Rita, the daughter of one of Loveless’ engineers, will the US be able to maintain its rebuilt unity? Or will the Transcontinental Railroad be a failed attempt at cohesion, leading to all out war?


Bottom Line: A little corny but a lot of fun WWW offers an American spin on steampunk. Filled to the brim with weapons, flying machines, and the iconic Spider this film offers a chance to sit back with the family and laugh while appreciating the American corset style for a change.


Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Wild_West

Find It: http://www.worldcat.org/title/wild-wild-west/oclc/527853299

Castle in the Sky

Creator: Hayao Miyazaki, Director

Media Type: Animated Film, 124 minutes

Audience: Family


Prepare for an adventure mystery that leaves you in awe. Miyazaki films are known for their incredible animation and gripping stories, and this is no different.

Aboard the immense flying warship Goliath the mysterious Muska is holding young Sheeta hostage. Sheeta is the last living inheritor of a long family secret to the flying city of Laputa; part El Dorado myth part steampunk sky-city. When the Goliath is attacked by air pirates Sheeta escapes by jumping from the airship. She takes refuge with Pazu, an orphan living alone in a harsh mining town. With Muska and the pirates hot on their heels, the two must race to reach Laputa and understand her secrets before her technologies can be used for war.

Bottom Line: Absolutely beautiful film with all the fantastical steampunk elements (airships, robots/automatons, in-charge female air pirates captains) you want from a movie, but with a new animated flair.


Watch It:http://www.worldcat.org/title/laputa-castle-in-the-sky/oclc/822886354

Find More: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092067/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Boston Metaphysical Society

Creator: Madeleine Holly-Rosing (Writer) and Emily Hu (Artist)

Media Type: Web comic

Find It: http://bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com/

Audience: Teens, 13+


In turn of the century Boston things are not as they seem. Ghosts, spirits, apparitions – these are the day to day interactions for the Boston Metaphysical society. Run by an ex-detective, a Catholic teen who inherited her father’s psychic abilities, and an African-American scientist this unlikely group may be all that stands between Boston and the mysterious forces seeping into our world.

Also at play in the supernatural series is B.E.T.H. – a secret society of scientists and Victorian celebrities who know the true extent of Boston’s problems; assuming they can overcome their personal agendas to do anything about it. Alexander Graham Bell, Edison, Tesla, and Houdini may not seem like the most likely (or functional) collection of men to face the spirit world – but they are the most recognizable. In addition to the web comic the BMS and B.E.T.H. worlds continue and expand in a growing series of novellas, available in print and EBook format.


Bottom Line: I was hoping for a lot more from the character-list for this comic series. I was also hoping for more per page to make the sometimes slow-loading from page to page feel more worth it. While the universe has a lot to offer, I feel it is better suited to younger readers who may be less critical.

Read More:



League of S.T.E.A.M.

Creator: Nick Bauman and Robin Blackburn

Media Type: Web Series

Find It: http://leagueofsteam.com/

Audience: Family Friendly (without being dull). Think “Wild Wild West meets Scooby-Doo”


Welcome to the adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M. (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management). Founded in 1884, the League is a professional collection of the most experienced and dedicated supernatural management team. Trained in exorcisms, ghost hunting, Kraken removal, and more the League is well equipped with the latest in Victorian technologies and ready for whatever comes next.

This multi-platform group offers three things: a professional-quality web series, live interactive performances at conventions and events, and a podcast. The performances and videos are pure steampunk based on hand-crafted pseudo-scientific technologies with Victorian flair. Their videos mix fully developed Victorian characters with the supernatural, comedy, adventure, and some delightful storytelling. Their quality and popularity are proven with their successful Season 3 Kickstarter funding project, which raised over $30,000 with the help of 567 individual backers.


Bottom Line: A highly successful web series and live-performance group, the League offers a pure Steampunk experience from costumes to gadgets to guest stars to zombies.


Watch a Trailer: