I wake up Friday morning, move through my daily routine, and in about two hours I’ve transformed into the magical priestess of a squid god and am ready to hit the streets. This is obviously not a normal day for me, but when you cosplay it becomes one you look forward to for months.
I started cosplaying about three years ago, and what started as a casual hobby has quickly turned into an obsession. Cosplaying is hard to describe: it involves crafting, sewing, and any other arts-and-crafts hobby you require to create a costumed likeness of a character. The character you portray can be taken from anything: comic books, television, anime, film, literature, music. To me, cosplay is a way to express your love of media. You spend countless hours building a wearable homage to this fandom you adore. When the end product is finished, you then get to wear it to conventions and meet other people who have the same love and appreciation for what you embody.
I only thought it logical that librarians, who are obsessed
with literature and other media, would have those
obsessions bleed over into their hobbies.
This month I attended the New York Comic Con, one of the biggest comic-book and media conventions in America. They have everything from previews of new television shows to a cosplay competition. My primary motivation to go was simply that I love going to conventions. There are so many things to see and so many comic books to buy. I’ve been attending comic-book conventions since I was a teenager, and attending one of the biggest ones in the country was a must.
But this convention was a little different. I was also going to participate in a “Cosplaying Librarians” photo shoot for an upcoming cosplay calendar. The shoot was organized by Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture (CCGC) in Libraries, a website I contribute to that is run and written by librarians (you can see more convention photos from the photographer, HSL Photography, on Instagram). I had been reading cosplay articles by my fellow contributors and was very excited to see their work in real life. I myself spent way too many hours and gave myself a couple of hot-glue burns preparing my cosplay of Dee from the Image Comics’ title Rat Queens. I thought she was an appropriate addition to the calendar: she’s a book-loving former cultist who is a member of an all-female adventuring party in a fantasy setting. She enjoys reading spell tomes when she’s not slaying monsters. But more importantly, it was an opportunity to put my rare-book knowledge to use and create a leather-bound spellbook as a prop for my cosplay.
Someday soon cosplay will even start up in libraries.
What I was really excited about was meeting other librarians who liked cosplaying as much as I did. I knew we had to be out there. Going to conventions, I’ve met many other cosplayers who have become acquaintances, and even some I cosplay with. However, I hadn’t yet found any librarians who cosplayed. After entering the LIS program at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, I started trying to find some. I only thought it logical that librarians, who are obsessed with literature and other media, would have those obsessions bleed over into their hobbies. But no matter how many conventions I went to, I didn’t find any other cosplaying librarians. When the editor of CCGC in Libraries, Ellyssa Kroski, emailed me about the Cosplaying Librarians calendar I knew the day had finally come. Though the shoot was brief, talking to all the other librarians was terrific. As a LIS student, it was encouraging to see men and women with their MLIS degree taking their passions and sharing them with others at their library. Everyone’s cosplays were terrific and represented all types of media, from manga/anime (Mikasa from Attack on Titan) to video games (the security guard from Five Nights at Freddy’s) to classic TV (a 1960s Catwoman).
Our fandoms can sometimes divide us within the nerd community. Comic-book nerds may scoff at the “newbies” getting into comics because of television and film adaptations. Anime fans may be enraged that someone doesn’t know which character is on their shirt. But libraries can appease those tensions and create a warm, welcoming environment. Someday soon cosplay will even start up in libraries. Libraries are already holding their own comic-book conventions. Why not host a workshop on how to work with scalemaille or making armor with craft foam? Those nerd librarians are out there. Maybe it’s time to put on your best Riddler costume and show patrons what you’re cosplaying.