Conventions: Start Planning Early

Want to share your passion, enthusiasm, and costume work with others? What better way than by presenting at your local (or not to local) convention?

While most conventions take place in the Spring and Summer, most are starting to put their calendars together now. Booking special guests, musicians, artisans, and speakers takes time- so the sooner the better in most cases. Bellow I’ve compiled a list of active cons deep in the planning stages for their 2017 event. Did I miss your favorite? Send a link to admin@steampunklibrary.net and I’ll add it!

The First-Ever Edwardian Ball New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana March 25, 2017 http://www.edwardianball.com/

While not technically a convention, The Edwardian Ball is an elegant and whimsical celebration of art, music, theatre, fashion, technology, circus, and the beloved creations of the late, great author and illustrator Edward Gorey.

Steampunk World’s Fair

Piscataway, NJ May 5-7 http://steampunkworldsfair.com/

February 15th, 2017 is their deadline for panel applications  http://steampunkworldsfair.com/applications/programming-application/

Geneva Steam

Delavan, WI March 10-12  http://www.genevasteam.com/

February 17th is their deadline for their final few panel spots. They are specifically looking for maker themed events.

Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention

Tuscon, AZ March 3-5   https://www.wildwestcon.com/

This is one of the few animal friendly conventions. They don’t have a posted deadline for volunteer/panel applications, BUT they have listed their musical guests: The Cog is Dead!

The Polar Emporium of Supernatural Oddities

Anchorage, AK April 15-16 http://www.alaskasteamposium.com/

Visit with Gail Carriger in the frigid north! Past years panels included 19th Century Sexuality & Sensuality, Introductory Leatherwork, and Creating Worlds Through Words. They have no posted deadline for applications.

I’m also including links to conventions that don’t have 2017 dates listed yet.

TeslaCon, Wisconsin, http://www.teslacon.com/

Steamposim, Seattle, http://seattle-steamposium.com/

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NANOWRIMO 2014

Official (and surprisingly inspirational) NANOWRIMO icon
Official (and surprisingly inspirational) NANOWRIMO icon

Have you been/are you planning on participating in the National Novel Writing Month (known to most folks as NANOWRIMO) challenge? We wanna hear about it! Email documents, comments, and links to submissions[at]steampunklibrary[dot]net.

Share your vlog updates; share your stories; share your favorite author podcast about tips for writing. If you need inspiration, you’re not alone, so send us your favorite steampunk story, website, or artwork and we’ll post it here and via the Steampunk Library Project Twitter page (@SteamLib) to help inspire your fellow participants.

Is your library (or school, or book group, or even just you and your friends) hosting a NANOWRIMO event? Check out this nifty idea for creating novel finishing kits.

Wanna learn more about NANOWRIMO and how to get involved? Visit the official website for all the details.

Good luck to all participants in the 2014 challenge!

Steam Themed Halloween pt2

Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).

Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at submissions@steampunklibrary.net and via Twitter @SteamLib.

Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:

Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.

Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?

Image: the librarian as a steampunk gender-bent Sherlock Holmes
Your Librarian as Sherlock Holmes circa 2012

Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.

Who doesn’t love coloring?

Image of my personal copy of Brian Kessinger's Coloring With Your Octopus
The best birthday present from The Boyfriend (aka The Project’s IT guy)

Artist Brian Kesinger (author of Walking Your Octopus) has a matching coloring book out now! You can find Coloring With Your Octopus at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Pages can be distributed throughout October in the Children’s (and Teen, and Adult) sections to bring some steampunk whimsy to your tables. There’s also the Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book, the Creative Haven Steampunk Designs Coloring Book, and the option to make your own coloring pages off of Google or with the help of a crafty coworker. These are great for having out the whole month and at the kid’s table at events.

Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.

Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story

Age/Audience: Teen/Adult

Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story

Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,

Summary:

Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.

When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.

Bottom Line:

Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Find It:

The Curious Case on Amazon

The Curious Case on Goodreads

Steam Themed Halloween

Halloween is my favorite time of year: crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, costumes, make-up, parties, and of course the annual revival of “Hocus Pocus”. This post is all about bringing steampunk into your library (or home, or community center) for Halloween. Some ideas are wholly steam-themed while others are ways to add some Victorian flair to any Halloween program.
Have your own favorite program for Halloween, or pictures from a successful event? Have it hosted on the site by sending it to submissions@steampunklibrary.net. You can also share pictures of events, costumes, and more with us on Twitter @SteamLib.

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
Description:
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.

Program: Steam-Themed Family Masquerade
Audience: Family
Time Frame: 2 hours
Space Needed: Open floor space for dancing, tables for snacks, and tables for crafts
Budget Considerations:
• Custodial services
• Food (finger munchies and candy)
• Craft supplies (felt, glue, craft sticks, glitter, small paper hats, white and black fabric masks, etc)
Description:
For a family-friendly Halloween event host a masquerade! Invite community members to come in costume and read scary stories, share treats, dance a little, and give their kids a reason to put on their costume again. Starting just before the event and running throughout allow guests to make their own party mask. This is easily made steam-y by providing gears, gold glitter, small Lego octopus creatures, and lace to adorn the DIY masks. Costume contest categories can also be made steam by having a category for Victorian Monsters or book characters.
P.S. The library blog Ms Kelly at the Library has great Halloween party games for kids

Looking for a grown-ups only party? Easily make the masquerade into a Victorian Murder Mystery night! Have your guests dress in their best steampunk attire (help them feel inspired to start a custom costume project) There are dozens of sites with downloadable party templates and ideas and some include hosting tips. These party templates can then be altered to have The Parasol Protectorate’s dashing Lord Akeldama as man of the hour, or Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker Machine as a murder weapon.
Don’t forget to include all your steampunk favorites into your Halloween book displays and bulletin boards! What better to bring fear into a reader’s heart than a mad scientist, a sea monster, or a vampire with an impeccably perfect cravat? Inspire Victorian costume by highlighting fashion histories, DIY sewing/craft books, and the colorful covers of YA steampunk in your collection. Steampunk art books also liven up a display and show the genre in it’s best season.

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

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

Description:

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: http://www.gpo.gov/libraries/public/

 

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: http://catalog.gpo.gov/fdlpdir/FDLPdir.jsp

FDLP Training: http://www.fdlp.gov/about-the-fdlp/training-and-events

American Library Association Government Documents Round Table: http://www.ala.org/godort/front

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

Description:

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 nanowrimo.org. 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:

http://nanowrimo.org/

http://gamenaminator.com/creature.php

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

Description:

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)

Description:
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.

Example:

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

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

Description:

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