“Each according to their ability : Zine librarians talking about their community,” written by Jude Vachon, Kelly Wooten, Kelly McElroy, and Violet Fox, was published as a chapter in The Politics of Theory and the Practice of Critical Librarianship, edited by Karen P. Nicholson and Maura Seale (Library Juice Press, 2018). The chapter is a reflective, informal discussion between the four long-time zine librarians, sharing how theory and practice work together in zine librarianship in ways informed by the human connections and sense of responsibility we feel towards our resources and each other. Topics discussed include the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics, zine cataloging, and feminist pedagogy.
Delighted to have the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics featured on episode 8 of Print Fold Staple! Print Fold Staple is a podcast about zine culture with Bruce Otter & Melissa Black, brought to you by the Denver Zine Library. Zine librarians Kelly Wooten (Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University) & Kelly Shortandqueer (Denver Zine Library) talk about privacy, preservation, accessibility, organization, and other joys and challenges of zine librarianship.
Work on the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics began at the 2014 Zine Librarians unConference held in Durham, North Carolina and was released in late 2015. We’ve gotten great feedback about it, but the ZLCoE was intended to be a living document, and we’re always looking for more input. If you have thoughts about the code, we’d like to hear what you have to say! Did we get something wrong? Are there things we didn’t address that we should have? Please leave a comment on this post or chime in on the Zine Librarians email list so we can ensure that the next version of the Code of Ethics is even better!
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.
The November 2015 edition is now available in beautiful zine format for printing (pdf) or as a boring Word document. (The pdf version above is slightly revised, with contact information and a Creative Commons license.)
Thanks to Kelly Wooten for the lovely work creating the zine formatted version. And thanks again to everyone who’s contributed–if you contributed and your name isn’t on the list, please let us know by emailing zinepavilion at gmail.
A buncha zine librarians and non-zine/librarians have been working on a Zine Librarian Code of Ethics. Earlier we posted parts of the Code for your review and comments. Here is the Code in one document for your (hopeful) final review. There are questions that came out of this round of edits, and I seek the advice of the group. Please comment if you wish. And thank so much for your time!
Multiple groups of zine librarians are developing a codes of ethic (name might change) and want feedback from zine creators, zine readers, zine librarians, zine scholars and whoever all else wants to give their input.
REVISIONS for REVIEW
Code of ethics revision – Access (saving it as a G document to see if that will better facilitate collaboration)
Code of ethics revision – Use
Code of ethics revision – Acquisitions (Heidy’s updates at the bottom, still in progress)
Please provide your feedback in the comments for each separate page. If that’s burdensome, share feedback some other way! You can email Jenna Freedman if you want. The due date is February 14th at midnight your time. Thanks!
Whereas “access” is getting to read and look at online archives, or in places like zine libraries, zine fairs, or special collections reading rooms, “use” means reproducing or quoting from zines. Reproduction can include copying zines in their original formats and redistributing them; printing portions in books; or any kind of online sharing, from comprehensive archive projects, to publishing images online newspapers, blogs, or any form of social media. This section should guide yourself and others when it comes to questions of zine use best practices and ethics regarding copyright and seeking permissions (and using citations!)
Most importantly, we consider ourselves members of a community: As zine makers and zine librarians, our practices are not just about what’s legal, but also about what’s respectful to the people and the work.
Copyright and Ethical Use
The U.S. copyright code has a special section for libraries, allowing librarians to make copies for researchers to use for their own research. This assumes you won’t be sharing it or reproducing it in any way. If you do want to reproduce something, copyright law requires that you ask permission from authors (there are time restrictions on these, but we’re assuming that you’re mostly going to be working with late 20th century and contemporary authors, so these won’t apply). If you are reproducing for educational purposes or significantly transforming the original, your use may fall under Fair Use (discussed further below).
However, in our experience, reproducing or sharing zines is not just about copyright. It’s also about zinesters’ right to decide how their work is distributed and how widely, and how it is contextualized. It’s also about community, respect, and just being a nice person.
Zines are not like mass-distributed books. They are often self-published and self-distributed, and sometimes printed in very small runs, intended for a small audience. In addition, perzines are by definition “personal,” and zinesters may feel different about having their zines distributed in print than they would about having them openly available on the internet or print. This can be especially true in the case of “historical” zines in library collections — for example, a teen girl writing a zine for her close friends in 1994 may not want her zine distributed online or in print 20 years later.
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’s read as a whole, rather than having one or a few pages excerpted or reprinted.
Asking for permission
There are many different uses of zines you should seek permission for. For students and researchers who want to use excerpts or even images in an academic paper that isn’t going to be published in print or online, a citation is usually enough. [See “Cite this Zine” zine: https://zines.barnard.edu/sites/default/files/inline/citethis2010.pdf] If you want 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 that zinesters may not usually request permission for, like posting a picture from a zine or the cover on Twitter or Instagram 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 copyleft or appropriate Creative Commons permissions.
In cases where you are not planning to reproduce a zine, researchers or journalists writing extensively about a particular zine creator or community should get in touch with those people directly. The zine library holding their works is not a proxy for the people who created them.
Whenever you reproduce or describe a zine online, in social media, in a library catalog or website, or other venue, if the zine creator(s) contact you and request that you remove the content or edit it, we recommend respecting their wishes. You may be able to argue fair use based on these principles: (1) the purpose of the use; (2) the nature of the work used; (3) the amount and substantiality of the work used; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the work used. However, in our community, it’s not just about what’s legal, it’s about what’s respectful. We advise getting explicit permission whenever possible.
What does asking for permission mean? If you are publishing a book or academic article, the editor or publisher may provide you with their official form to get a signature. You can create your own form if you are working independently. If you use a formal letter, we recommend writing a more conversational email explaining who you are and what you are seeking.
What to include (from the Purdue Library website):
- Your name, address, telephone number, and email address.
- Your title/position and name of any institution you might be affiliated with.
- The date of your request.
- A complete and accurate citation.
- A precise description of the proposed use of the copyrighted material as well as when and for how long the material will be used.
- 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 you can find contact info on the zine, try using that, or using google to search for an email address, blog, facebook account, etc., to make your request. The zine librarians email list [https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/zinelibrarians/info] or other online forums may be helpful in tracking down people. Document your efforts to contact the person. If you are doing a project with multiple zines that require permission, use a spreadsheet to keep track of when/how you attempted contact. This will not completely protect you legally, but it is important to do your due diligence in this process. If a zine has more than one author, you may need to contact the editor (if there is one clear person) as well as the creator of the content you wish to use. Locating one of those people will most likely lead you 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.
Guide to copyright permissions:
Fair Use for Libraries: