Library Programs, Summer Reading Program, Youth Services

Steampunk at the Tony Hillerman Library

Steampunk magnetAmidst a slew of programs — summer reading, origami, Lego, music celebrations, arts, Every Child Ready to Read, storytimes — the staff at Tony Hillerman Library in Albuquerque still found time to go “beneath the surface” and delve deep into a genre that is popular with the teen set. One Saturday afternoon a month, Laura Metzler, YA librarian, hosts a steampunk craft at the library.

What is steampunk? Imagine a sci-fi future, but an alternate reality. Instead of electricity powering everything — steam power is the energy of choice. Instead of streamlined, “Vulcan”-esque costuming, the frills and fanciness of Victorian culture is the fashion. Think gears, goggles, mustaches, timepieces, heavy machinery and lace-up boots. Gearing towards teens, steampunk programming will definitely bring in fans of Scott Westerfield and Phillip Pullman.

Leviathan is a popular steampunk novel.

When I visited Tony Hillerman, a loyal following worked studiously on steampunk magnets (prior activities included button-making, photo-tinting and candles). Cute and fun, we all happily cut the heads out from pictures adorable pets* and glued them atop Victorians posed for portraits. Top it off with a boiler replete with goggles, and voile’! We steampunked our magnets!

(*Laura explained, it was Victorian humor to replace faces in portraits with animal heads. What fun!)


The activity was well prepped — and Laura explained how to duplicate the portrait materials at home.


Steampunk “accessories” for our magnets.


Not necessary to visit an alternate reality! The activity smartly used common materials: printed pictures, scissors, cardstock and three types of glue: gluesticks for the portraits, tacky glue to attach the portraits to recycled magnets (brilliant to recylce those!), and Modge Podge to give our portraits an authentic finish.


A wall of finished magnets.
Was a lot of fun — Thanks, Laura!

About Ryanne

Ryanne Cooper, Assistant State Librarian, Bureau Chief of Library Development Services New Mexico State Library, is highly interested in what you are doing at your library! Contact her to share your story.

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