Zine Reviews: recommendations by type of library/user

Q: Typically reviews say for what type of library they recommend the material (e.g. public, large academic, anywhere the author has a following, etc.). I assume we’ll do that, but where it gets sticky is when we start specifying age groups. How do you think that should be handled?

Answers:

  • Reviewers should indicate when there’s information that may be considered “mature” / not suitable for individuals younger than x.
  • From a public librarian’s perspective (and I do assume that this is where the age question really comes into play) I would say that in my small library, I would definitely not have a j collection. Not enough appropriate zines to make a robust collection, and children aren’t know for their ability to handle anything less than library bound materials. That being said, I would probably do the same thing I’ve done with graphic novels- have both YA and adult sections. In that case, the age thing comes down to ‘is it ok for someone age 13 or 14?’ If it’s not, it goes in the adult section. I like this because more adult content is available to teens, but they knowingly get it from the adult section.
  • I wonder if we could not specifically mention age groups, but just say in the review if it would be appropriate/of interest to teenagers? I have a Library Journal graphic novel column in front of me, and it seems like that’s how these are. “Recommended for teens and adults” or “Not inappropriate for teens but more likely to appeal to adults” and similar.
  • I am ambivalent about age groups. I am more inclined towards describing the content and allowing people to make their own decisions.
  • I do think it would be a good idea to specify, like LJ does, what type of library or collection the material is appropriate (or recommended) for. Much like they do with the graphic novels: appropriate for teens, adults only, appropriate for all ages, for feminism collections, etc. All other zine review publications (mine included) are written for zine readers, not librarians. So as a librarian, you read between the lines and make a guess as to whether the zine is appropriate for your collection. I think that’s one thing I’ve heard zine librarians want – to know whether a particular title is teen-friendly or not, for example.
  • Not sure, but I think the answer is along the lines that zines are for libraries that carry small press periodicals, local authors or have existing zine collections.
  • As for specifying age groups, it’s hard to determine really… The nice thing about zines is that a 49 year old can appreciate and identify in some ways with a teenager’s zine. So maybe we should mention specific ages if the zine mentions them, is written by a teenager specifically, or has porno or something 12 year olds probably shouldn’t be seeing.
  • Does the journal have standards for identifying age groups for items they already review? If so, use these. If not, then perhaps seek advice from a publication that regularly reviews childrens and ya materials? Or give the recommendations for age in terms of interest rather than “appropriateness.”

In thinking about what zine reviews in a major library publication would look like, I posed several questions to a group of potential zine reviewers. This is #2 of 7.
(people who contributed, let me know if you want me to remove your comment–or to cite it with your name)

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