Now at a York County library near you: Cosplay

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

York County Libraries listened to local teens and decided to add a new program: Cosplay.

For those not in the know, cosplay is the practice of dressing up as one's favorite character from a book (or TV show or video game). It might help that the libraries have more than 10,000 graphic novels for all ages. 

And York County Libraries Teen Services Program Manager Susan Korsnick said if the library doesn’t have the book, the teens can request it through the library. 

The teens don’t need to bring much for the first class on Saturday. 

“They should bring their imagination,” said Ellen Helfrick, director of library relations. 

“Yes, and enthusiasm,” Korsnick chimed in.

The first class was from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Martin Library, 159 E. Market St., when a cosplayer came in fully decked out to teach the teens how to research their character. Additional sessions are planned Feb. 25, March 25, April 22 and May 27.

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The next workshops will teach teenagers about what fabrics they should use, how to find fabric, how to build props and how to do special effect hair and makeup. 

Teens should register on the library’s website,, so the staff can have an accurate headcount. Teens can also find out if they need to bring anything with them for any of the workshops when registering.  

The library asks participants to register for any events they want to attend so they can have an accurate headcount to prepare. All of this builds up to the library’s first cosplay fashion show at 2 p.m. June 24 in Martin Library’s quiet room.

“Which won’t be very quiet,” Helfrick said.  

The teens don’t have to participate in all of the workshops but can pick and choose as they need. 

Tabby Duncan (15), from Manchester, at York County Library’s first day of their cosplay program in York on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.

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However, these workshops also teach teens useful skills such as sewing by hand and machine, researching and how to use a 3D printer. 

The fashion show is open to all fandoms, such as comics, manga, Dungeons & Dragons, books and movies. 

There are specific guidelines for what can be used at the show, such as no pyrotechnics.

Also, the show won't be competitive.

“We didn’t want to put them in that competitive spirit where they have to be learning something new as well as outperforming other people,” Korsnick said, explaining they might give out participation trophies.

The librarians are still working it out, but they would rather keep it an enjoyable time for all and help the teens build up relationships with each other. 

Korsnick added there will be green screens available at the show for people to take photos with cosplayers on different backgrounds, such as dystopian scenes. 

Christina Shaw, from Drums, talking to the teens about the cosplay design process at York County Library’s first day of their cosplay program in York on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.

The women added that the audience is invited to dress up. 

During that time, the teens can also check out their newly renovated room in Martin Library, which will offer pingpong, video games, books and areas to study. 

This program came about because the teens were interested, which led Korsick to make the workshops. 

“A lot of our teens aren’t familiar with (cosplay), and they haven’t tried it before,” Korsnick said. 

Korsnick is developing an interest in anime and manga and even considering dressing herself up for the show. 

Helfrick added they couldn’t just have the show and expect the teens to show up knowing how to cosplay. 

This program is only open to teens at this time, but if adults express enough interest, the staff will consider expanding it. 

Helfrick said they hope to grow this program for the teens, it just depends on the interest level. She added people need to remember the library is more than a book warehouse, it’s also a community living room. 

Audrey Coleman (14), from York, at the York County Library’s first day of their cosplay program in York on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.

Part of the Story: In addition to this, the library is also offering a new chapter to its Part of the Story program on Thursday. This particular one, again requested by teenagers, is focused on mental wellness. 

Korsnick said the morning will be split up between small groups, led by adults, discussing NoNieqa Ramos’s book “The Disturbed Girls’ Dictionary,” and “human library breakout sessions.” Those sessions will consist of community members talking to the teens about mental wellness from their perspective.

Ramos will teach about journaling; Maria Lusso, a WellSpan Health doctor, will talk about behavior strategies and how to deal with conflict resolution. 

Korsnick said Lamar Advertising will show teens the impact of words and images on actions. The teens will also design a billboard, and one of those designs will be displayed on billboards across the county, she said. 

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This is the sixth year of the program, and it is currently full. 

Korsnick said these kinds of programs are important to teens to let them know they are in a safe place. 

“Teens are often stereotyped and forgotten in society in general,” Helfrick said, adding that librarians don’t want them to grow up without the opportunity to connect with people, the library and its resources. 

Korsnick added the teens are in a weird spot where they are told they are children one minute and then told to act like adults the next. She said knowing someone is there for them will help them journey into being adults better, which the library is trying to help. 

— Reach Meredith Willse at or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.