“Engaging the Future of Zine Librarianship”

We haven’t frequently highlighted scholarship about zine librarianship on this site, but when I read Ann Matsushima Chiu‘s chapter on “Engaging the Future of Zine Librarianship” in Librarians with Spines (Los Angeles : HINCHAS Press, 2017), I wanted to recommend it to other zine librarians. Chiu writes from her own experience as well as interviews with two experienced zine librarians, Cathy Camper (Multnomah County Public Library) and Jenna Freedman (Barnard College). The chapter moves beyond discussing how to establish zine collections within libraries, and focuses on the need for creating sustainable collections. Topics include the importance of institutional buy-in from the library as a whole, strategic and effective succession planning, and building communities through zine networks (including shout outs to the Zine Librarian email list, the Zine Pavilion, and the Zine Librarian unConference!).

I’d highly recommend this chapter as a prompt for thinking about establishing zine collections which are not just one librarian’s pet project, but instead are seen as integral parts of building more holistic library collections.

Ordering information for the Librarians with Spines book: from the publisher. Library info: WorldCat record.

Looking for Chicago-area zinesters

The Zine Pavilion will be held this June 23-26 at McCormick Place in Chicago during the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference. We’re still looking for tablers, so if you’re a Chicago-area zinester please consider joining us—you’ll get a free table and registration to the library conference! For more information, check out the Zine Pavilion page and the sign up form.

cut-and-paste flyer with text reading "Want to share your love for zines with librarians? Table at the American Library Association conference's Zine Pavilion! McCormick Place, Chicago, June 23-26. The Zine Pavilion is like a mini zine fair at a librarian conference. Free tables & admission to the conference! Be an ambassador for zines in libraries!"

ZLuC 2017 POC travel grant

We’re collecting money for a POC travel grant for the 2017 Zine Librarians unConference (ZLuC), happening August 4-5 in Long Beach, California!

If you identify as black, indigenous, or a person of color and are interested in attending ZLuC 2017, please fill out this application form by Sunday April 30th. Registration is free for all attendees–this grant is designed to help with associated travel and/or childcare costs of attending.

If you’d like to donate to the fund, please send funds via PayPal to violetfox at gmail (or use the Paypal donate button on the sidebar). Thank you!

WHY? Why Make Zines in times of strife (and calm)

Contributed by Milo Miller

I feel like this is a conversation that keeps happening over and over within zinester and zinelib communities, but it’s one that’s timeless. For some of us, we kind of know it inherently, but it’s always good for a refresher and to get new eyes, ears, and typewriters clacking about it. So, presented in listicle format, it’s Why Make Zines, Spring 2017 edition:

1) Making zines is relatively easy. There is no special knowledge needed, not a lot of hi-tech wizardry that takes days, months, and years to learn. If you can make a mark on paper with your writing implement of choice, you can make a zine.

2) Zinemakers own the whole production and distribution process. From a seed of an idea to a fruit-bearing tree of a zine, we are beholden to only ourselves. Which means that we have final say on the writing, drawing, illustrating, cut-and-pasting, copying, folding, stapling, and distribution. While it might seem labor-intensive to those who have never made zines before, it’s hugely advantageous.

3) Zines can be about ANYTHING. Because of #2, there’s no limits as to what can go into a zine. Which is part of why we make them. We can and do write about all sorts of topics – things that are challenging, or sexy, or political, or just silly and fun – without fear of being censored or even edited too hard.

4) You own and control your zines. Think about #2 and #3 combined, and what that means… In this space and time, usually someone else has SOME stake in how media gets out in the world. They own the publishing platforms, and are making money off your work. Facebook, Tumblr, Google/Blogger, YouTube, Twitter, etc… When you use them for getting your work and ideas out in the world, you’re beholden to them, and they’re selling ads and making revenue off you. And if they don’t like what you say or post, they may just delete your content, or freeze/erase your account. Not so with zines.

5) Making things can feel really good, and storytelling can be hella cathartic… And not everyone can (or wants to) knit, have bebes, or bake bread from scratch. But to catch those good, creative feels, making zines is an easy way to go. It’s “self-care” that’s not about consumption.

6) Making zines and trading them, selling them at zine fests, or through your Etsy/indy book store/distro is a great way of getting mail. Who doesn’t love mail covered in stickers and washi tape?

7) So, I’m not sure how it works for hetero-cis-male zine makers, but for the rest of us, making zines is a good way of making/expanding friend and tribal networks. I mean, really, now… most of my closest friends are zinesters (and zine librarians!)

8) I believe that we all have things to teach and learn. At QZAP, when we offer internships, we ask our interns to make zines, and specifically we ask them to make a mini-zine that “teaches somebody something.” Which means, for us, that we’ve got a huge folder with mini zines that teach how to do the dishes, put on condoms, change bike tyres, etc. So, reason #8 on why to make zines is to teach somebody something.

9) It took us a little while to get here, but for me one of the real reasons to make zines is to tell stories. The stories of our lives. Our stories are tales of people who often are marginalized in some way. We don’t have access, we don’t have privilege. Or we have some, but that gets traded away in other ways. Because we’re queer, trans, and gender non-conforming. Because we’re women. Because we’re Black and Latinx and Asian and Indigenous. We need to make zines because our stories are important, and WE are important, and zines are a great way of sharing this import.

10) Do you really need any more reasons? Add your own in the comments!

This blog post was inspired by current political events and is part of a semi-occasional series on zines as resistance.

ZLuC 2017 dates announced

More details about ZLuC 2017 have been announced: the 2017 Zine Librarians unConference will be held August 4-5 at the Long Beach Public Library in Long Beach, California!

As always, registration for ZLuC is free for everyone. Please visit the wiki site for this year’s ZLuC for more information: http://zinelibraries.info/wiki/zluc-2017-lgb/ and make sure you’re on the Zine Librarians email list so you don’t miss any pre-conference conversations and announcements.

Information about the ZLuC 2017 travel grant for POC librarians will be forthcoming!

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 Etsy.com 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!