Steamposium Seattle: 2014 Event Review

Over the weekend (Sept 26-28) Seattle was host for the First Annual Steamposium, a new steampunk convention filling the gap felt in the community after SteamCon Seattle fell through after five years. I must admit I was skeptical that Steamposium would be able to fit the bill given how quickly they pulled everything together: I have rarely been so pleased to be so wrong.

Librarian standing to the right of powerpoint display
Look at that lovely PowerPoint

My Panel:

I hosted a one-hour panel during the Friday 3pm block that was one part discussion about the Steampunk Library Project and one part book talk about my favorite pieces to create a core steampunk library. Despite my nerves causing my originally 35 minute presentation to only last 27 minutes, the event as a whole was quite a success! There were lots of questions, interest in the specific books I discussed, and over a dozen attendees.

Over the course of the weekend I gave out about 100 buisness cards: people taking them at the panel, giving them to people I talked to, a small stack to the Other Worlds Book vendor table, and a few strategically left at the water table.  Thank you so much to everyone who turned out to support this project. I’m looking forward to my next wave of content updates including a lot of community input and new reviewers.

Conventions Pros:

  • I believe the Steamposium creators learned several valuable lessons from the business failings of SteamCon, and one of those lessons had to do with location. The Bell Harbor International Convention Center was a fantastic venue: on the water, walking distance to Pike Place Market, and surrounded by food and parking. The water made for a great background for photos, a ton of which can be found via the Steamposium Flickr and Steamposium Twitter. Be sure to look for Steampunk Iron Man and Boba Fett.
  • Add-Ons: I loved being able to really customize my con experience by choosing which events I wanted to buy tickets for and which I didn’t.
  • Variety: I loved the variety of material presented in the panel schedule.
  • Artist Gallery: The quality of authors and artist present at the con was phenomenal! There was a wide range of talent and really showcased the variety in our little subculture. Some artists and authors I recommend searching for include:

And my favorite part of the experience: Steam Powered Giraffe.

Group photot: left to right, Rabbit, Librarian, Spine, Hatchworth.
That is the face of name-forgetting-levels of joy. From left to right: Rabbit, The Librarian, Spine, and Hatchworth.

I had the opportunity to do a photo-op and visit the autograph table on Saturday. During the photo I completely forgot my name and only barely redeemed myself during the autograph session. I fully intended to go to the table and express my admiration for the band and share how they were a founding piece of this project (and therefor a major piece in completing my Masters) but I’m fairly certain I only awkwardly shook their hands and babbled a bit. Ah well, still the highlight of the weekend.

Convention Cons:

  • This may be more of a difference in priorities, but I wish the convention had more panels and fewer dances. Personally, I’d rather keep attending sessions and meeting with writers and cosplayers than attend a second set of parties and cabarets.
  • Along the same lines, timing was an issue. The panels and merchant hall would open at 10am (noon on Friday), but would be all wrapped up at 5pm. As someone who was traveling down from the suburbs for the events, I would have liked it if things had started a little later and ran a little later into the evening, particularly on Friday as I felt a lot of panels I attended suffered from low attendance since many Seattleites were likely still at work during the bulk of 12-4pm time slots.

    Librairian holding Steam Duck learns to Fly open to the group
    Practicing my book-talk strategy

For me, the pros greatly outweigh any negatives I felt towards the scheduling. It was a well put together event in a great location and had a wide variety of offerings for everyone. And it gave me the opportunity to talk about this little project with a lot of people I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

Bottom Line: Will I be going again? Absolutely! In fact, you can already pre-purchase full weekend passes for only $40 on their site now. Look for another update once they begin accepting panel/workshop applications.

Please share your experiences from Steamposium 2014 in the comments below or send your thoughts and pictures to share via submissions@steampunklibrary.net or via Twitter @SteamLib.

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Banned Books Week

2014 ALA BBW Image
2014 ALA BBW Image

Every year the American Library Association promotes a week-long series of displays and events to draw attention to censorship in schools and public libraries. Simply called Banned Books Week, these events highlights items that have been banned/censored, or otherwise branded as immoral or unfit for circulation.

According to the ALA a challenge “is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” A breakdown of terminology can be found here.

In 2013 307 formal challenges were reported by the ALA , down from 464 in 2012. That’s more than a challenge a day for every day in 2012. It should be noted that because of the specific definition of “challenge” and “banned” the ALA has limited means to keep statistics on what books are being targeted and why. The ALA estimates that for every challenge they count “four or five remain unreported.”

Public and academic libraries across the country show their support for the right to read through displays, activities, and speakers. These events vary is scope from highlighting the irony of banning some books (for example, banning Fahrenheit 451 ) to promoting conversation about what themes are deemed unreadable and why (like this display ).

The ALA and other library organizations across the country have supportive materials from posters to display templates to t-shirts. Bellow I’ve compiled some of my favorite ideas for displays and activities to draw attention to censorship and promote thoughtful discussion about what we censor.

Share your own favorites in the comments bellow, or on Twitter @SteamLib #BannedBooksWeek.

displayProgram Type: Book Display

Audience: All

Time Frame: Week of BBW

Space Needed: Single display shelf, visible from library entrance

Budget Considerations: Staff time and paper

Description: Cover selected historically challenged books in yellow paper. On the paper you can choose to represent the attitude towards the challenge of your choice (thought provoking, fear mongering, sarcastic, and so on). Options include:

-Ironic list of reasons it was challenged (ie Anne Frank being sad, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as racist, or Perks of Being a Wallflower as unsuited to age group)

– Excerpts from court cases/media interviews about the book

– Warning sign for reasons banned (ie “contains descriptions of nudity” or “parental guidance strong language”)

Online Resources-

http://hotlibrarytech.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/banned-books-week/

http://www.unshelved.com/2010-10-20/Awesome_Banned_Books_Week_Display!

Name: Banned Book Mug Shot

 From the Oak Park Public Library Flicr
From the Oak Park Public Library Flicr

Program Type: Interactive display

Audience: All

Time Frame: Week of BBW

Space Needed: Wall for display, cleared area to allow all users access, space for camera/printer/screen

Budget Considerations: Backdrop creation, staff time to supervise users, camera rental (if not owned by the library) paper/ink for printing the pictures

Description: Have patrons pose with their favorite banned book in front of a decorative police mug-shot styled back-drop. Include the height chart, a sign which includes the name of your library, and an “I Read Banned Books”/ “Caught Reading Banned Books” sign. Print a copy of the photo for your patrons to take home with them. For budget reasons this might be set as the ending of an event or workshop.

Online Examples:

http://www.citylit.org/BannedBooks.htm

Name: Character Monologues

Program Type: Event/Presentation

Audience: Children/YA/Classroom

Time Frame: Week of BBW, best suited for story-time or book groups

Space Needed: Presentation space

Budget Considerations: Costumes & props (if provided by the library)

Description: Have book group members/story-time participants/your class read a banned book and perform a monologue from their favorite character’s point of view. Have them address the reasons they have been banned and how they feel as a character or what they believe the person making the challenge miss understood about their book.

Online Examples:

http://donnakaybryan.hubpages.com/hub/Banned-Books-Week-Activities

Librarian’s Update

Thank you so much to everyone following and sharing on this site and re-tweeting, sharing, and commenting on Twitter (@SteamLib)! This project is a labor of love and the support and enthusiasm of my followers make it all worth while.

I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the ladies over at SS Librarianship, a library-life focused podcast hosted and produced by two of my UBC SLAIS classmates. I was lucky enough to get to talk about all things steampunk on their episode titled “I Can Do It My Damn Self” which you can listen to via their site.

Want more Steampunk Library content? You can become the content! In making this project a community resource I am always looking for library programs, displays, and crafts as well as reviews of books, music, movies, and websites. Any material can be sent to submissions@steampunklibrary.net and will be posted here. Please including any links and the name you’d like listed in the by-line (and your Twitter handle if you have one).

Want to get involved in person? I will be presenting at the Steamposium Seattle Steampunk Convention in September. Conventions are great opportunities for steampunk fans from all walks of life to network and find inspiration. In addition to great panels the convention will also be hosting musical guests Steam Powered Giraffe and celebrity guests from around the geeky universe. I hope to see lots of bookworms and educators gussied up in their finest top hats.

 

Happy Labor Day!