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!)

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

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Steampunk “accessories” for our magnets.

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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.

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

About Ryanne

Ryanne Cooper, former Bureau Chief of Library Development at the New Mexico State Library, is now a freewheeling library supporter, advocate, and fan of New Mexico's libraries from afar.

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