The Good Library is launching its first-ever Geek Off contest this year, with students, faculty and staff encouraged to express themselves creatively by submitting an artistic piece focused on one of their favorite fandoms. The deadline for submission is Feb. 4 and the winners will be announced a week later on Feb. 11. 

The top three winners will choose from a prize selection including a Nintendo Switch Lite, a VIP ticket to Elkhart County’s Comic-Con and a ThinkGeek collection box.

“People have a lot of talent,” Kelsey McLane, the service specialist for Good Library, said. “We want to present it in a fun way.” 

The contest idea came from McLane’s previous job in Denver, Colorado, and she thought it would be fun to implement here, as well. She floated her idea to the library’s student workers last semester to get feedback and Olivia Martin, a junior, enthusiastically responded: “Yes! You have to do it!”

Currently, ten people have already entered, including Martin. Martin’s subject was based on a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) character, Taako. The elven wizard debuted on a D&D podcast, and Martin described him as “zany.” For example, Taako turned into a dinosaur to destroy a powerful creature. For the project, Martin created a wizard hat for Taako, but “it was a tiny thing on his massive head” and didn’t scale to size. 

For those wanting to enter, there’s still time to submit entries. Participants must complete a form at Physical submissions such as cosplays and sculptures require participants to also hand in projects to the library’s front desk. 

Martin assured participants that objects will be handled with care. “Kelsey’s office is always locked,” they said, and “the library also locks up after closing.” McLane added that the building even has 24-hour cameras to ensure safe-keeping for the competition.   

Entries will be graded on creativity, technical prowess and overall wow factor. However, “it’s hard to compare apples to oranges,” McLane said, such as judging between a song and a cosplay. To balance judgments, McLane plans to have the Goshen Public library’s staff members, library student workers not participating in the contest, and Goshen College faculty and staff assess entries. An email asking for judges will be sent in the next few weeks. 

Judges will rate submissions from 1 to 10, and all the judges’ scores will average for the final score.

The three winners will be announced at 10 a.m. on Feb. 11. The library will provide snacks and display all entries in the reference room. The grand winner will get their first pick of a prize, and runners-up can choose remaining prizes that have not already been taken.    

“I know a lot of people entering have a lot of cool things,” Martin said, and they can’t wait to see what fellow participants came up with. 

McLane plans to start hosting the Geek Off contest yearly. “I hope it increases awareness that the library has more than just academic stuff. We [as library staff] want to encourage the fun part of the library as well.”