5 Cosplay Programming Ideas for Your Library

Guest contributor Ellyssa Kroski, author of Cosplay in Libraries: How to Embrace Costume Play in Your Library, shares some tips for putting on library programs featuring cosplay, comic books, and nerd culture:

This is an exciting time for comic book geeks, costume enthusiasts, and superfans to be involved with libraries as both librarians and patrons. I know because I consider myself fit to be described by any and all of those categories. Today’s innovative libraries have begun to embrace new ways to engage library patrons such as developing comic book and graphic novel collections, hosting library comic cons, organizing fandom events, and offering cosplay programming.

For those who are new to the term, cosplay is a mashup of the words costume and play and it is the act of creating and wearing a costume to portray an admired character and express one’s fandom. Cosplayers use a vast array of methods and materials to design their garments and props including foam, thermoplastics, fabrics, and 3D printed items. They find inspiration everywhere around them including comics, anime, classic literature, and even history, as well as film, television, and video games, to inspire their creative and oftentimes elaborate ensembles.

The intersection of these interests with libraries is a perfect match as libraries are striving to develop entertaining and educational new programs and services that will appeal to not only children but young adults as well as “kids at heart” of all ages and cosplayers are thrilled to learn valuable STEM skills if it means creating a fantastic costume.

If you’re curious about how you can incorporate this inventive pastime into your library’s programming, here are just five suggestions for events:

  1. Host a Comic Con In Your Library – There are few events at which you will see as many cosplayers gathered in one place as at a comic convention. This type of event is sure to draw crowds of costumers and non-cosplayers alike!
  2. Host a Cosplay Contest – An organized cosplay contest offers costumers the opportunity to highlight their creativity and all of the hard work that they put into fashioning their outfits. Incorporate this into a comic con, anime day, library lock-in, or organize it as a standalone event.
  3. Form a Cosplay Club In Your Library – A great way to keep teens and other library patrons engaged with your library and its collection is by forming a cosplay club. Cosplayers can share ideas for future costumes, tips for building props, and more.
  4. Host a Cosplay Props 3D Printing Event – 3D printing has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for cosplayers, who are limited only by their imaginations. Teach patrons how to design with 3D modeling software to create incredible props and costume pieces.
  5. Host a Create-Your-Own-Armor Event – Hosting an armor-building event in your library is a sure way to attract cosplayers and perhaps even a few non-costumers who are curious about how they too can design and create their own armor items.

If you are interested in detailed walk-throughs of what’s involved with planning, funding, marketing, and hosting each of these and many other cosplay events, please check out my brand new book: Cosplay in Libraries: How to Embrace Costume Play in Your Library.

Ellyssa Kroski is the Director of Information Technology at New York Law Institute and Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute. She is the author of Cosplay in Libraries, a hands-on, one-stop guidebook  which includes interviews with librarians who are incorporating cosplay into their programming, 12 step-by-step projects detailing the ins and outs of organizing cosplay events, and 32 full-color photographs of cosplay in action to give you both ideas and inspiration for getting started.

If you’re looking for more ideas for makerspace projects in your library, please download our white paper from the Big Book of  Makerspace Projects.

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