Best Icebreaker Ever zine

Best Icebreaker Ever printable one-page zine

click to download printable pdf

Inspired by Alana and Noah’s “Icebreakers are Awkward” zine, Jamie Glass created a zine for library student worker training—it’s a one-pager and a quick ‘n’ easy way to get to know people! Use and adapt as desired.

Zines for kids

Hands with scissors and markersI love sharing zines with all kinds of audiences, and have been leading zine-making and zine history workshops with campers at Girls Rock NC summer camp for about a decade. One big challenge is finding zines that are appropriate for ages as young as 7-8 through high school. Kids are always eager to point out any “bad” words they find, and can be a tough crowd! I eventually started making my own mini-zines about women musicians since I had a hard time finding things I could share. I am always on the lookout for all-audience zines, and over the past few years other folks have asked about these as well.

What does “kid friendly” mean? Think about G-rated movies, and if in doubt, err on the side of caution. No bad language–and be liberal (or is that conservative?) with what might be “bad.” No naked pictures or sexual content beyond hugs and (chaste) kisses. Keep it to topics kids can understand or relate to– some of the science zines are fine content-wise, but are they about insects or particle physics? (Not that 2nd graders aren’t into physics, but you know what I mean.)

Kid-friendly zines that are free to download or cheap to buy: pile of zines

Tips for finding or making your own kid-friendly zines:

  • If you want to make multiple copies of any zines you purchase, ask the creator. I have found that many people are open to this since they often want to share the love of zines. Or ask if you can pay extra when you purchase and then make copies. Keep it ethical!
  • Try searching for “your mellow and innocent topic” plus “zine” and see what comes up. Sometimes “girl” + “zine” = zines that are perfect for Girls Rock camp, and sometimes it doesn’t. DIY zine is another good search to try. I always end up spending a few bucks on things for myself, so be warned!
  • Sometimes I go ahead and buy zines when I’m not sure if they are G-rated. I can afford to just keep the DIY zines with gratuitous swears or inappropriate crafts, but if you’re in doubt and don’t want to risk it, just message the seller.

Please add any other suggestions to the comments!

ZLUC 2016 in Boston

The Zine Librarians unConference (ZLuC) is coming up quickly! This year it’s taking place Friday July 29-Saturday July 30th at Simmons College in Boston. Registration is free, so if you’re near Boston and want to sign up for what has lovingly been described as “nerd summer camp,” [coughMilocough] please join us. Registration and a preliminary schedule can be found at

This is an unconference, so we’ll finalize the topics when we arrive Friday morning, but if you have ideas for what might be worthwhile topics to talk about, add them to the list here:

If you need a login (or a reset password) to this website, just contact Violet (violetfox [at] gmail [dot] com) or Jenna (jfreedma [at] barnard [dot] edu).

Zine Pavilion at ALA Annual 2016

There will be a few zine librarian-related events at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando, June 23-28—if you’ll be at #alaac16, please stop by the Zine Pavilion or join us for the special events planned.

The Zine Pavilion will be celebrating its fifth anniversary! It will be at booth 751 in the exhibit hall (in the West Concourse, Level 2). There will be tablers from near and far, lots of supplies to help make a page for our collaborative zine, and a raffle where library workers can win a starter zine collection! Events include:

Please share the word about the Zine Pavilion on Tumblr and Twitter using #ZinePavilion.

Code of Ethics 11/15 – Web Version

When this was published in November 2015 we neglected to put up the web version, so here it is. Please see this entry for printable versions.

Zine Librarians Code of Ethics
Zine Librarians Interest Group, October 2015

This document is emerging from years of challenging and joyous conversations about the work we do with zines. As caretakers of these materials, in our
roles as librarians and archivists – independent, public and academic alike – we believe in a set of core values that inform and guide our work. We
disseminate those values here in order to communicate openly and build trust.

This document aims to support you in asking questions, rather than to provide definitive answers. Guidelines may not apply uniformly to every situation,
but include discussion of disputed points. This gives zine librarians and archivists ideas of what has been challenging in the past and how other zine
custodians have dealt with those issues. These points can guide conversations with users, institutions, authors, donors, and communities — including other
zine librarians and archivists.


We, the community of zine librarians and archivists believe that, because…

  • zines are often produced by members of marginalized communities,
  • we strive to respectfully engage with and represent those communities,
  • librarians/archivists are often part of the communities that make/read zines,
  • the material itself, so beautifully and wonderfully varied, is often weird, ephemeral, magical, dangerous, and emotional, and because
  • we reject the myth of library/archival ‘neutrality’, therefore
  • we want to be accountable to our users, our institutions, our authors, donors, and communities


1. Not All Methods of Acquisition Are Equal.

Libraries and archives can acquire zines through donations or purchases. Many institutions have small (or non-existent) budgets for zine acquisitions, and
will therefore rely heavily on donation; we believe this to be perfectly acceptable and in keeping with the generous spirit of donors towards cultural
institutions. However we also believe that institutions should strive when possible to purchase zines. Because of the non-profit nature of zines, the
creators of zines often lose money (or barely break even). Financially supporting zinesters by purchasing their creations can help sustain their ability to
keep making zines. Moreover, purchasing zines demonstrates respect for the value of the zinester’s work.

The following methods of acquisitions are rated in order of preference:

  1. Purchasing directly from the author or publisher
    Though it can be a bit more work to acquire zines this way, it ensures that all profits go directly to the author or publisher.
  1. Purchasing from a zine distributor (distro)
    Zine distros are small distributors who buy zines from authors or publishers at a discount then resell them. Though distros can help streamline
    the acquisitions process, zine authors/publishers get a smaller cut of the profits when zines are purchased this way.
  1. Receiving donations from the author or publisher
  1. Receiving donations from third parties.
    It can be difficult to determine where the donor acquired their zines, so this can be an ethical quandary.
  1. Creating unauthorized copies.
    While some zinesters see no problem with this, especially for out of print materials, many others find it unacceptable and see it as a breach of trust.
  1. Purchasing from an unauthorized third party.
    This might include purchasing items from other collectors or sellers online. Some zinesters find it objectionable when others sell their work for profit, while some do not. Collecting institutions should strive to understand the motives and desires of the zinesters when making purchase decisions.

2. Whenever possible, it is important to give creators the right of refusal if they do not wish their work to be highly visible.

Because of the often highly personal content of zines, creators may object to having their material being publicly accessible. Zinesters (especially those who created zines before the Internet era) typically create their work without thought to their work ending up in institutions or being read by large numbers of people. To some, exposure to a wider audience is exciting, but others may find it unwelcome. For example, a zinester who wrote about questioning their sexuality as a young person in a zine distributed to their friends may object to having that material available to patrons in a library, or a
particular zinester, as a countercultural creator, may object to having their zine in a government or academic institution.

When purchasing zines directly from authors or publishers, or when soliciting donations for an institution, it is ethical (and considerate) to note that the materials will be available to the broader public. This is easily achieved with a quick word when acquiring materials in person, or with an email or note in the comments section of an online form when purchasing online. This courtesy may not be necessary when purchasing from a distro; if creators have placed their work with one, there is typically an expectation that there will be a wider viewing public.

Still, this only addresses acquisitions of current materials. As alluded to above in the section on acquiring zines, third party donations can be tricky, particularly when the creators may be difficult, or impossible, to track. While it might be an admirable goal to ask permission of zinesters to include their work in a library/archives, or at least inform them that their work is in a particular collection, this may require intensive efforts, depending on
the size (and age) of the donation. The librarian/archivist will have to gauge the importance of maintaining good relations with zinesters against the time and resources involved in making and retaining contact.

For libraries and archives that accept third party donations, it may be most important that all parties involved simply act in good faith. And if there are qualms about a certain donation, or about third party donations in general, it is always an option to not accept the zine(s) into the collection.

3. You should have a thoughtful collection development policy in place.

Having a publicly-accessible collection development policy specifically for your zine collection is highly recommended. The definition of what constitutes a “zine” is nebulous, so having parameters spelled out can help prevent unrelated materials from creeping into a collection (for example, political newsletters, literary journals, or brochures) when they are unwanted.

A collection development policy is a set of rules or guidelines that determine the focus of your zine library collection. A written policy allows an institution to seek out certain zines that fall within scope while being able to confidently reject material that doesn’t.

Because of the unlimited subjects that zines can be about, a collection development policy statement may include specific areas of interest for developing (for example, zines by locals). An effective policy might describe the core collection as well as special interests and exclusions.

4. Zine librarians/archivists should strive to promote a variety of viewpoints in the zines in their collection.

The very heart of zines is their ability to give voice to those who are not traditionally represented in libraries/archives, so it is vital whenever possible to include zines from underrepresented populations, with consideration to zines created by people of different races/ethnicities, genders, classes, ages, abilities, sexual orientations, and so on.

In addition to a collection development policy, other policies should be in place. Any institution should be able to answer questions about how these materials will be managed during their life on the shelf. As with any other form, zines will require policies on issues such as how to handle duplicate titles, or when weeding is appropriate.


1. Access to zines in libraries and archives carries an inherent tension.

This Code recognizes that

  • As librarians and archivists, we have a responsibility to respect the professional and ethical traditions of reasonable and equitable access to
  • As cultural advocates who strive to positively and respectfully engage with the creative communities we document, we also have a responsibility to
    consider personal and privacy concerns of zine creators.

Because these two responsibilities may come into conflict, zine librarians and archivists should consider the principles in this section of the Code with respect to access to materials in their care. Zine libraries/archives will inevitably take different approaches, some emphasizing preservation, others leaning more toward access. However, regardless of the librarian’s/archivist’s approach, one should always be willing to consider a zine maker’s requests for how their work is identified or otherwise treated.

2. Sensitivity to both creator and creation is paramount in zine librarianship.

Zine librarians and archivists are therefore sensitive to the environments in which zines are created and distributed. We should consult with zine creators and communities and respect the desires for autonomy and privacy of those creators and communities. We should not expose the legal identities of zine creators in cases where those identities are not explicitly noted in the zines themselves. We want zine makers to feel safe having their zines in our libraries.

3. Unusable materials are useless materials.

Zine librarians and archivists should strive towards the highest practical degree of access to the zines in our care within the context of our institutional missions and populations. When we interact with zine creators and donors we should provide a balance between reader/researcher access and zine creators’ wants and needs regarding privacy.

Zine librarians/archivists should make every effort to create environments that are physically and emotionally accessible. Whether or not the institution a zine librarian is housed within, if there is a larger institution, has a safer spaces policy, zine libraries should always be sensitive to issues of, among other things, race, class, gender, sexuality, physical disability, and mental/emotional health.

Zine librarians/archivists’ overarching goal is to facilitate the recognition of zines as legitimate cultural artifacts documenting 20th– and 21 st-century lives. To that end, we should do our best to preserve them and make them accessible to future readers and researchers, via physical access and description. We should be sensitive to how the needs and wants of zine creators can conflict with those of scholars, journalists, and people who
read zines for pleasure and do our best to find a balance, working in concert with our constituents: zine makers and zine readers.


  1. Zines’ special nature should be considered when conducting preservation

Given the ephemeral nature of zines, any zine may be a one- or few-of-a-kind item. Proper preservation of materials that meets the needs and requirements of an institution or zine-collecting body should be used in order to keep zines in proper condition, whether they are circulating or not. Zine library preservation practices run a full spectrum, from little-to-no active preservation, to housing them in acid-free folders and boxes or plastic envelopes. The key is to find what level of preservation fits the use and budget of the collection.

It is also important to note that many zine purchases come with “extras” that libraries or archives may not be accustomed to receiving. These “extras” may include free zines, pins, stickers, hand-written notes, and elaborately decorated envelopes. It is important to consider if these items will be saved, and if so, to make sure that staff who deal with receiving are aware that certain pieces will require special handling. For instance, these additional materials may be discarded, shelved or housed with the zine, or housed separately from the zine in its own collection.

4. USE

Whereas we define access as engaging with zines online or in physical locations such as zine libraries/archives or at zine fairs, use in this Code refers to the reproduction of zines or quoting from zines in another source. Reproduction can include copying zines in their original formats and redistributing them; printing portions in books; or any kind of online sharing, from comprehensive archival projects, to publishing images in online newspapers, blogs, or any form of social media. This section of the Code is a guide through questions of zine usage, as well as providing best practices and ethics regarding copyright and permissions.

1. Zines have copyright just as do more traditionally published materials.

The U.S. copyright code allows librarians/archivists to make copies for researchers to use for their own research. This assumes, of course, that the materials won’t be shared or again reproduced in any way. If further reproduction is required (for example, for exhibits) copyright law requires that permission be sought from authors. If reproduction is for educational purposes or significantly transforming the original, this may fall under Fair Use
(see below).

2. Zine usage has a particular context or contexts associated with it.

In our experience, reproducing or sharing zines involves not just copyright law and practices, but also zinesters’ inherent right to decide how their work is distributed and how widely, and how it is contextualized. In sum, it is about community, about respect, and about the simple act of being a considerate person and information professional.

Zines are not mass-distributed books. They are often self-published and self-distributed, printed in very small runs, and intended for a small audience. Zinesters may feel differently about having their work openly available on the internet or in print, made available to a much wider audience.

Some zinesters also feel that context is important. This can mean the format – that it was meant to be on paper, and held in the hands – or it can mean that the zine “works” best when it is read as a whole product, rather than having one or a few pages excerpted or reprinted. These are among the considerations that the zine librarian/archivist should observe when deciding how or whether to reproduce an item for use.

3. Seeking permissions for zine usage can be complex, but remains an important step.

There are many different uses of zines for which one should seek permission. For students and researchers who want to use excerpts or even images in an academic paper that is not going to be published in print or online, a citation is usually enough. If one wants to publish an image from a zine in print or online, we recommend obtaining permission from authors. There are some gray areas or casual uses for which zinesters may not usually request advance permission, for instance, posting a picture from a zine or a zine cover on social media or in a blog, usually with a short credit including the title of the zine and/or the author. Copying an entire zine, even for personal use, is generally not a respectful practice unless the creator specifies permission or produces a zine under an appropriate Creative Commons license.

Researchers or journalists writing extensively about a particular zine creator or community should get in touch with the relevant people directly, when possible. The zine library/archives holding their works is not a proxy for the people who created them, but librarians/archivists can and should direct researchers towards those creators when they can.

Whenever a zine is reproduced or described online, in social media, in a library catalog or website, or other venue, if the zine creator(s) contacts the holding institution and requests that the content be removed or edited, we recommend respecting their wishes. It may be possible to argue fair use based on these principles:

  • the purpose of the use;
  • the nature of the work used;
  • the amount and substantiality of the work used; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the work used.

However, in the name of community respect, we advise getting explicit permission whenever possible. See Appendix II for more specific information on
gathering permissions.


This section aims to help librarians/archivists think through some of the implications of making zines accessible via the core library/archival functions
of cataloging, organizing or describing.

1. The zine environment requires careful thought before embarking on these functions.

To echo our preamble, zines are “often weird, ephemeral, magical, dangerous, and emotional.” Dangerous to whom, one might ask? It likely depends on whom one asks, but in the age of the Internet, at least one prospectively endangered population are zinesters themselves. Librarians and archivists should consider that making zines discoverable on the Web or in local catalogs and databases could have impacts on creators – anything from mild embarrassment to the divulging of dangerous personal information.

Zine librarians/archivists should strive to make zines as discoverable as possible while also respecting the safety and privacy of their creators.

2. There are several aspects of organizational/descriptive work to consider when processing zines.

  1. Levels of Description: The more detailed descriptions provided for with zines, the more discoverable they will be. Within the specific conventions of the collecting institution, zines should be described as fully as possible, but with sensitivity to the amount of private information of living persons that might also be revealed.
  1. Identifying Zinesters: In general, use the form of name on the piece being cataloged. If reconciling forms of names to an authority file, use care to identify sensitive cases where the author may not want their full name associated with the zine. Be prepared to receive and respond to requests to change or remove name information in catalog records for zines. We encourage, but do not mandate, deference to zine creators’ wishes in this regard.
  1. Authority Data For Zinesters: When creating authority records for zinesters, refrain from recording more personal information than is necessary or required to identify the person under the rules or conventions of the authority file.

3. Subject analysis is a fine art in zine librarianship/archiving.

As zine librarians/archivists, we make every effort to broaden access and use through the most relevant and specific subject headings, summaries, and other notes. We acknowledge that the process is not infallible, and that sometimes errors will happen, such as the use of headings that offend or do not resonate with zine creators. It is important that ways be found in the process to invite feedback and create avenues for both authors and users to request revisions to a record.

When proceeding with subject analysis, note that subject terms can be controlled or uncontrolled. Controlled terms have the benefit of linking a user to larger swaths of related resources. They come from controlled vocabularies or subject thesauri like:

  • Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
  • Library of Congress Genre/Form Thesaurus (LCGFT)
  • Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), or
  • Anchor Archive Thesaurus

In assigning subject headings to zines, we recognize that there will be imperfect fits and that catalogers must balance collocation and discoverability of materials with using the language and terminology of zine authors. Additional considerations for subject analysis are available in Appendix III.

  1. Subject access can be enhanced with uncontrolled terms and keyword-rich summary notes.

Beyond subject discoverability, note that when no thesauri have the right terms to address a particular issue or community represented in a zine, uncontrolled terms will at least make a record more keyword searchable. Uncontrolled terms might be terms used on the fly by the cataloger, or terms pulled from the resource itself. Getting more significant keywords or phrases in a summary note will also achieve this and give users a better sense of the zine
to boot.


The Zine Librarians Code of Ethics is a tool to be used for acquiring, managing, preserving, and making accessible zines in a library setting, whether the collection is housed in a public, academic, or special library; an archives; or a basement. It is not intended to be proscriptive or the absolute word on the subject. It is modifiable and will be updated and revised as conversations, attitudes, and technologies evolve.


Joshua Barton
Heidy Berthoud
Jeremy Brett
Lisa Darms
Violet Fox
Jenna Freedman
Jennifer Hecker
Rhonda Kauffmann
Kelly McElroy
Milo Miller
Jude Vachon
Madeline Veitch

Appendix I: Additional Resources

Giari, Katie. “Cite This Zine.” [Zine] 2nd ed. New York. 2009.

Guide to copyright permissions:

Fair Use for Libraries:

Zine Librarians e-mail list

Zine Library Collection Policy Primer
Zine Library Collection Policy Primer

Appendix II: Process for Obtaining Permissions

What does asking for permission mean? If publishing a book or academic article, the editor or publisher may provide an official form to get a signature.
One’s own form can suffice if one is working independently. Such a form should include the following information:

  1. Name, address, telephone number, and email address.
  2. Title/position and name of affiliated institution, if any.
  3. The date of the request.
  4. A complete and accurate citation.
  5. A precise description of the proposed use of the copyrighted material as well as when and for how long the material will be used.
  6. A signature line for the copyright holder (including their title if they are representing a company) and the date.

Tracking down the creator of a zine can be difficult, particularly for those published in the 1990s (pre-internet/email times) or under a pseudonym. If
contact info is available on the zine itself, try using that, or searching online for an email address, blog, social media account, etc., to make the
request. The Zine Librarians e-mail list or other online forums may be helpful in tracking down people.

Document all efforts to contact the person or persons. If this is a project with multiple zines that require permission, use a spreadsheet to keep track of
attempts at contact. This will not provide complete legal protection, but it is important to do due diligence in this process. If a zine has more than one
author, the editor may need to be contacted (if there is one clear person in this role) as well as the creator of the content. Locating one of those people
will most likely lead to the others. Sometimes if a zine was created collectively, one person may feel authorized to speak for the group, and in other
cases, they may wish to each individually give permission for the usage.

Appendix III: Additional Considerations for Zine Subject Analysis

  1. If the zines reside within a larger collection, using some headings from the “standard” thesaurus adopted by your library or collection (e.g.
    Library of Congress Subject Headings, Sears) will make them more discoverable. When zines turn up alongside books, movies, and other kinds of
    information in a catalog search, users will have greater access to alternative perspectives.
  1. When using a thesaurus, adhering to its documented rules for use creates better collocation, so try to use it “correctly.”
  1. Supplement more formal or established thesauri with others that provide more accurate language or greater granularity. Some examples of thesauri to
    look at include the zine-specific Anchor Archive Thesaurus, or the visual art-focused Art and Architecture Thesaurus.
  1. Local headings that collocate common genres of zines can be very helpful for users looking to browse a catalog.

More thorough discussion of subject analysis for zines can be found in the 2013 article Freedman, Jenna, Rhonda Kauffman, and Melissa Morrone. 2013.
“Cutter and Paste: A DIY Guide for Catalogers Who Don’t Know About Zines and Zine Librarians Who Don’t Know About Cataloging.” In Informed Agitation:
Library and Information Skills in Social Justice Movements and Beyond. Library Juice Press.

Favorite copyright/fair use statements in zines

I’m posting this to the zine libraries site because I want people to contribute to it, but I should also put out there that the front matter is not necessarily representative of all zine librarians everywhere, zine librarians who add their favorite intellectual property claims and disclaims from zines, or even of myself tomorrow. That said, here goes:

Unless they say otherwise, zines are protected by copyright. You can’t digitize first and ask questions later. A bunch of zines are orphan works, meaning the creators are impossible to find. You still have to try. I won’t say anything more about digitization because Kelly Wooten already said it all, in 2009. Anyway, zine digitization isn’t the point of this; it just can’t be avoided when you’re talking about copyright. In this case, I’m merely wanting to celebrate cute and clever statements zine librarians have found in zines.

  • “Copylefted because everyone owns words and I trust people to give credit”
    Libel #18: The Europe Poems by Jenna DeLorey, 1998? (postmark
  • “Reproducing/reprinting all or any part of this zine without prior consent will be considered utterly disrespectful and generally uncool.”
    Aqsa Zine #4 Ancestors + Descendents
  • “All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electric, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. unless its something you’re just doing because you love it and not for any commercial gain. then you can use a little part. you can always write me if you have questions. plus I’d love to know what you are doing!”
    Cindy Crabb. The Encyclopedia of Doris: Stories, Essays and Interviews. Doris Press. 2011.
  • “Anti-copyright: Going Homo may be reprinted at will for non-profit purposes, except in the case of individual articles, grafix, and other contributions copy-righted by their creators or previous publishers. It would be nice, tho, if you mentioned you found it in Going Homo.” Going Homo #3
  • “permission for reprinting with proper credit  given is happily granted as long is it’s not for jive-ass corporate greed bullshit.  if you have to ask about that part, you probably are. go to hell.” Gumption no. 3. 1995?
  • “All material herein Is owned by Its respective creators. So don’t steal — ask
    politely. And remember to always give credit where credit Is due.”
    Queer Nasty #5.
  • “No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission by Julia. You may, however, attempt to persuade/woo her with cookies, beer, or high school handjobs.”
    Julia Wertz. The Fart Party #1, 2006.
  • “No part of this zine may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electric, recording or otherwise without the prior permission from its creator. Unless you’re just printing it for funzies & not for commercial gain. \_("/)_/
    (ascii art reproduced as best I could)
    Infinity Dots. Take Two: Escape from the Bayou, 2016.
  • Copyrights are silly, and we can’t keep you from stealing our shit, but maybe please don’t?
    Brook and Felicia, The Most Important Zine of the Day, 2014
  • Published by Mutya Inc.©.  And if you even dare copy the stuff in this issue for your own purposes and say it came from your own lips, be prepared to stay home a lot, lest I sick my headhunters on you!
  • Sabrina. Bamboo Girl #1. 1995.

Please add yours, either right in the post, or in the comments.

ZLuC travel grant for POC librarians/archivists

For the fourth year, zine librarians, archivists, & their friends are subsidizing a librarian of color’s (including aspiring ones) participation in the 2016 Zine Librarians (un)Conference in Boston, Massachusetts on July 29th and 30th at Simmons College.

We recognize an underrepresentation of people of color (POC) in previous Zine Librarians (un)Conferences, and it is because we value the contributions, leadership, and presence of POCs at the conference that we offer this travel grant. Grant winners may spend the money however they see fit, e.g., airfare, childcare, food, etc. (Registration is free for everyone.) 

To apply for the travel fund, please fill out this form.

To donate to the travel fund, send money via PayPal to diannelaguerta at gmail dot com (or just click the Paypal donate button in the sidebar). Thank you for your support!

Mental Health Zines

As part of LIS Mental Health Week, the Zine Librarians listserv crowdsourced a list of zines related to mental health that we love.

zines with personal narratives of mental health/illness
April Fools Day, by Kathleen Hanna
Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of riot grrrl band Bikini Kill, writes about her struggle with alcoholism and its effect on her life in this personal zine. Also included are non-destructive ways to get high, things that are better when sober, and a conversation about addiction with Brian Starhawk of Fitz of Depression. Read it in a library.

Clark 8, by Megan Gendell
A college student documents her stay in a mental health ward. Read it in a library.

Collide: on physical and mental health, edited by JC Parker
This compilation zine put together by JC presents personal essays from people living with physical disabilities and some form of mental illness including debilitating migraines, PTSD, suicidal ideation, brain injury, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, seizures, deafness and anxiety. Many of the contributors, including one who is genderqueer, have a family history of alcoholism and/or have their own issues with addiction. Contributors include Maranda Elizabeth, Kerri Radley and Sara Bear. There are also photographs, illustrations and recommended resources. Read it in a library, or buy from Stranger Danger Distro.

Doll Hospital, by Bethany Lamont
“It’s an art and literature mental health journal which encourages an intersectional focus. Rooted in self-advocacy, it centres the voices of those who are largely unheard in the mainstream narrative of mental health. It aims to be an alternative and does an excellent job of it. It takes submission from anyone who has experienced mental health illness firsthand and wants to talk about it in their own words and on their own terms.” (Quoted from this interview with the creator.) Buy from their website.

Filling the Void: Interviews about quitting drinking and using, edited by Cindy and Caty Crabb
A collection of interviews with people who have quit drinking or using drugs, about why they quit, the process, and their experiences.
Buy from Doris Zine Distro.

Functionally Ill (multiple issues) by Laura-Marie
In this zine, subtitled “Adventures with Mental Health” and “becoming bipolar”, Laura-Marie discusses what depression and mania feel like for her and describes her voices. Read in a library, or buy from the author.

Get a grip: travels through my mental health by Sarah Tea-Rex
Subjects: Sexual consent, Adult child sexual abuse victims. Download the pdf from the author.

Pathologize this!: a zine about mental health, edited by Sarah Tea-Rex, Rachel and Iris E.
Pathologize This! shares people’s mostly autobiographical stories of their experiences with mental illness. Issue 1 chronicles life with obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, alcoholism, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders, and as a sexual abuse survivor. There is also an essay about Elliott Smith and how many people use music to cope with illness. Issue 2 features writings on Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, manic depression, unnecessarily prescribed medications, suicide attempts, and the story of an artist turning their an anxiety disorder into a project. Download issue 1 and issue 2 from the authors.

Srviv 1-3, edited by Jonas
Some of the world’s best zine writers answer the question “Why I get out of bed every morning.” The results are beautiful, challenging, and inspiring. Buy from Antiquated Future distro or others.

Think About the Bubbles (multiple issues) by Joyce Hatton
“#8 A illustrated zine about my breast cancer journey, getting sober, depression, my suicide attempt, homelessness, and how breast cancer ended up making my life really awesome. #9 I went on the POC Zine Project Race Riot Tour. I learned a lot about racism, internalized racism, and how living my life in North and South Dakota has affected me. #11 A story about my lifelong BFF named Anxiety, and our destructive relationship. Lots of illustrations. #13 Mental health things, my relationship with my mother, purse-clutching, and birds. Also cancer, the Simpsons, and videogames. #14 A short comic about mental illness and isolation. Contains surreal and potentially disturbing imagery.” Read in a library or buy from the author.

“Unhealthy” : on coping with pain in socially inappropriate ways by Mika
Mika, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, challenges the recommended compulsory positivity approach to coping with personal and external (e.g., massive earthquake in Japan) trauma and instead argues that there is no “healthy” or “unhealthy” way to cope. She outlines her personal, albeit controversial, strategies, including lowering her expectations, thinking about her own irrelevance in the world, pondering the practicality of suicide after her own failed attempt, and affiliating with Buddhism. This zine is issued with a trigger-warning.

Wax and Feathers, by members of The Icarus Project
“In expressing our feelings, insights, and ideas about madness and the world around us we hope to inform and inspire others. The stories told by the psychiatric establishment, pharmaceutical industry, and the mainstream media all to often overshadow our own. By sharing our stories with others we can reclaim the right to define ourselves and our experiences. We choose to honor our uniqueness and complexity by letting our voices be heard.” Download from the Icarus Project.

self-care zines
The bad day book by LB Lee
“Made to be folded up and put in your wallet, this is a little pocket zine intended for general mental health crisis situations–dissociative episodes, psychotic episodes, suicidality, stuff like that. Obviously, this is not a replacement for a thorough crisis plan, just a quick and dirty resource for when you’re not thinking clearly.” Buy from the author.

Ease your mind: herbs for mental health, by Janet Kent
This zine serves as “a primer on the use of medicinal herbs to support mental health.” Arranged by symptom rather than by plant, each entry includes the plant’s common and Latin name, and a description of what kinds of symptoms or emotional states they are best suited to address, including anxiety, depression, grief, and insomnia. Includes a section on dosage and contraindications, a glossary, bibliography, and a brief overview of how to make teas, decoctions, and tinctures. Read in a library, or buy from the author.

Eat this sandwich by LB Lee
“Made to be folded up and put in your wallet, this is a little pocket zine intended to fight restriction urges–the psychological compulsion not to eat. Obviously, this is not a replacement for a thorough treatment plan, just a quick and dirty resource for when you’re having trouble getting food into your face. Methods true and tested!” Buy from the author.

Feeling worthless? by LB Lee
“Made to be folded up and put in your wallet, this is a tiny little pocket zine intended to help deal with… well, feelings of worthlessness.” Read in a library, or buy from the author.

The worth of water: a compzine about self-care, edited by Sarah Rose
This compzine provides articles on stress relief activities and self-care. Contributors in their 20s and 30s talk about their love for John Waters films, making films, activist burnout coping techniques, and overcoming addiction. Contributors include Sage Adderly (Tattooed Memoirs), Sarah Arr! (Tazewell’s Favorite Eccentric), Laura-Marie (Functionally Ill), JC (Tributaries), and others. The zine also includes recipes, illustrations and a list of resources. Read in a library.

Other fantastic lists of mental health zines available at: AND

Librarians + zinesters January zine reading

UPDATE JAN. 6: EVENT CANCELLED:  We’ve had to cancel this event at Papercut Zine Library, apologies for the late notice!

There will be a zinester / librarian zine reading at Papercut Zine Library on the evening of Saturday January 9th (during ALA Midwinter). We’re looking for folks who would like to read from their zine (or someone else’s), so please get in touch if you’d like to participate (violetfox at the gmails or @violetbfox).

Details: Saturday January 9th 2016 at 6 pm
Papercut Zine Library, 10 Ward St, Somerville MA
Facebook event:

flyer for Boston January 2016 zine reading event