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.

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.

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!

Steampunk Coloring & Activity Book

Rainy weekend plan
Rainy weekend plan

Title: Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book
Author: Phoebe Longhi

Age/Audience: All

Genre/Style: Activity and coloring books

Read If You Like: Coloring, word search, 10 minute activities

Summary:

Though aimed at youth this steam-themed paperback activity book appeals to anyone with a box of crayons at hand. Connect-the-dot images, word searches, and ‘complete the picture’ style pages are then paired with cooking recipes and riddles. This variety allows the thin volume to appeal to a wide audience, all with a combined steampunk/anime style.

Example page
Example coloring page

Bottom Line:

Great for a rainy day or travel activity for any age, artistic skill entirely optional.

Find It:

http://www.amazon.com/Steampunk-Coloring-Activity-Book-Illustrations/dp/1933149639

 

Gentlemen of Steampunk

Title: Gentlemen of Steampunk

bookcover
Author: Evan Butterfield
Series: Photograph series

Age/Audience: Adult

Genre/Style: Art book paired with detailed character introduction

Read If You Like: Short stories, character art, or photo-books

 

Summary: Welcome to the creative world of Mr. Luxet Tenebrae, one of Victorian England’s grandest photographer and writer. Inspired by engineering, history, politics, and the swift technological changes of the 19th century this collection of portraits and detailed synopsis of his subject’s work. With an eye for the historical details, Mr. Tenebrae paints a detailed portrait to match his pictures.

Mr. Tenebrae, the alter ego of California based photographer Evan Butterfield, blends various art types into each image. Each character is expressed through a lavishly costumed model and a creative text description. The collection takes the idea of a stuffy, repressed Victorian male and turns it swiftly on its head in this blending of cultural commentary, art, and pseudo-science in a way only a steampunk master can.

 

Bottom Line: A thin volume filled-to-bursting with fantastic and complex images paired with descriptions sure to inspire anyone out of writer’s block.

 

Find the Book:

http://www.amazon.com/Gentlemen-Steampunk-Evan-Butterfield/dp/1500582042

Find More from Evan Butterfield Photography:

http://www.ebutterfieldphotography.com/

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 http://steampunklibrary.tumblr.com/), 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 submissions@steampunklibrary.net 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

Summary:

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: http://www.steampoweredgiraffe.com 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

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706620/

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!