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Steampunk genre takes over Coal City library

COAL CITY – Teens at Coal City Public Library were transported this week to a bygone era – the 19th century to be exact – to celebrate the literary genre of Steampunk.

As part of this year’s summer reading program at Coal City library, this week’s theme was “Spark a Reaction,” and the material accompanying their collaborative summer reading program had Danielle Diamond, teen services director, imagining the unimaginable that is often found in Steampunk literature.

“It’s build and design week, and I thought Steampunk worked well with it,” she said.

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring machines and technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world, according to

Diamond has utilized teen culture to keep the teens actively involved in the summer reading program, including a zombie walk, and the introduction to 19th century items like candy floss, fizzy drink and cheese pasty.

The Steampunk party held Wednesday evening had the teenagers creating Steampunk-themed hats, and playing pin the moustache on the sir.

“I play Steampunk games,” Josh Headley said. “It’s old-fashioned but still uses technology.”

Marco Scarpelli said he never knew the name of it, but was enjoying creating the hats and Steampunk-inspired water guns.

Dressed in her Victorian finest was 14-year-old Taylor Peterson, who loves everything about the genre.

“I love the clothes, the style. It looks old-fashioned yet futuristic,” she said.

Peterson was introduced to Steampunk as an eighth-grader who wore a pair of boots to school, and her friends pointed out they were “very Steampunk”.

Caitlyn Painter was one of those friends who introduced her to retro-futuristic fashions.

“I went on Tumblr and happened upon Steampunk and looked more into it,” Painter said. “I learned there were books, movies and Cosplay [costume play].”

Diamond said keeping up with teen trends is important to keep the teenagers engaged at the library.

“If the Steampunk party wasn’t going on I’d be at home,” Peterson said.

Diamond doesn’t want the teens spending their entire summer at home, she wants them at the library, reading and learning.

“It’s more of a celebration of our summer,” Diamond said. “It’s fun and educational.”

The program frequently is attended by 15 to 20 teens in sixth through 12th grade.

She said she uses the creative ideas like the zombie walk to teach the kids about things like infectious diseases and how the military used zombies in counterterrorism training.

“Things they like, have real life context,” Diamond said.


For information on Coal City Library programs, visit the library Coal City Public Library District website,

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