ZLuC Organizers Toolkit

Welcome to the Zine Librarians unConference (ZLuC) organizer toolkit! The document is intended to give you the tools to create a great event at your institution. Please consider adding any information you think would be helpful for future ZLuC organizers.

table of contents:
website
cost
timing
venue considerations
attendees
registration
schedule
housing
promotion/outreach
supplies
food
fun
offsite access
code of conduct
document management
BIPOC travel grant
selecting next year’s site
lessons learned
appendix A: 2018 code of conduct
appendix B: promotional script
appendix C: social media/recording/photos policy

Website

The website for previous ZLuC has usually been hosted on zinelibraries.info. This ensures that multiple people can have access to edit the site (anyone can sign up for an account) and also that the site will be saved for posterity. It also helps introduce people to the resources available at zinelibraries.info. You can view the pages of previous ZLuCs at: http://zinelibraries.info/events/zine-librarian-unconferences. Create a space on the site for your event as early as possible so attendees know where to find information (even if it’s just a notice that more info will be coming soon).

Since the URL is long, ZLuC 2018 used a link shortener when promoting the event: tinyurl.com/ZLuC2018 automatically forwarded to http://zinelibraries.info/wiki/zluc-2018-msp.

Things to include on the website: the hashtag for social media (traditionally just #ZLuC), info about what ZLuC is and who it is for, registration form link, schedule, maps to event locations, code of conduct, information about housing options, area attractions, and a variety of places to eat. Importantly, you should have a place on the site for people to collaborate on notes. For ZLuC 2018 we set up a Google doc and linked to it via tinyurl.com/ZLuC2018notes.

Cost

ZLuC has traditionally been free to attendees, and costs have been covered by the host institution. Because of this, the planning will need to be within the constraints of your budget. ZLuC doesn’t usually have extras like conference swag, though organizers will usually try to provide things like coffee/tea and snack items. Be resourceful and consider potential sources of extra funds early on, such as sponsorships, grants, or low-key things like getting day-old bagels from the local bagel shop.

Timing

ZLuC has traditionally been held in the summer. However, this isn’t set in stone! Organizers can choose when to host their event according to their institution’s schedule. Hosting the site in summer may favor academic librarians over public librarians, since it’s usually a slower time of year for academic libraries, who have busier autumns. Consider weather as well as the price of travel/accommodations in your location as you decide. Traditionally, ZLuC has been held on a Friday and Saturday: this ensures that people who are attending on work time can attend on Friday, and people who are not attending on work time can attend on Saturday. ZLuC 2018 was held on a Thursday afternoon-Friday full day-Saturday morning schedule; it worked out okay but left out some folks who weren’t attending on work time.

Announcing the date as soon as possible will help people plan and get better deals on transportation. Check calendars to make sure you’re not planning on the same date the ALA conference or regional library conferences, as well as making sure no major religious holidays are happening on the days of the event. ZLuC 2017 was held on the same weekend as the Long Beach Zine Fest which allowed folks to attend both while they were in town.

Site/venue considerations

ZLuC 2018 was held at three sites within a one mile radius in Minneapolis: one site each day of the three-day event (one community/technical college, one university, and one public library). This seemed like a fun way to show off all the amazing collections we had. On one hand, attendees were able to explore three different libraries with three very different collections. In addition, each institution was only responsible for covering one day of event costs. On the other hand, this increased the organizers’ efforts (considering things like signage and space planning, we essentially had three small events instead of just one) and was extra work for out-of-town visitors, who had to navigate their way to (and find their way around) three different locations. If you’re considering a multi-site event, feel free to get in touch with any of the ZLuC 2018 organizers.

Things to consider at your venue:

  • Is childcare available?
  • What’s the accessibility situation? (Both getting to venues and within venues)
  • What’s the parking situation?
  • Are there all-gender restrooms? Can some of your restrooms be converted for the day of the event?
  • Are there catering restrictions? Can you bring in your own food?

Attendees

About half of the attendees at ZLuC 2018 were local (living in Minnesota). We had 71 people register in advance of ZLuC 2018 (including eight organizers/volunteers). The majority had never attended a ZLuC before.

Registration

As far as we know, ZLuC 2018 was the first to have to cap registration after we got more registrants than we’d expected. Because it is a free event, there may be more drop-outs/no-shows than an event where people would’ve had to pay to register. In the future, organizers will want to have a cap in mind, either a number of registrants that would comfortably fit in the room(s) available, and/or a date by which people need to register so appropriate plans can be made.

This chart shows that the registration rate was steady and increased regularly up to the close of registration three days before the event.

chart showing rate of registration for ZLuC 2018, with a steadily increasing line

The registration form from ZLuC 2018 included questions about name, email address, affiliation, whether they wanted to be listed on list of attendees, geographic area, which days people were attending, what social events they’d like to see, accessibility concerns or other needs, and a space for other questions. We asked about what topics attendees might like to discuss (see “Creating a schedule” section). For ZLuC 2016 we also asked about dietary restrictions so we could make sure everyone had suitable food options (see “Food” section).

Creating a schedule

The number of breakout sessions that should be planned will vary. At ZLuC 2018 we ended up having six breakout sessions that were between 75 minutes and 90 minutes long. Give attendees time between sessions to chat, use the restroom, and just take a breather. Find previous year’s schedules on their respective sites.

The idea of an unconference is that topics are not strictly planned out in advance, to give attendees the flexibility to discuss topics of interest to them. However, pre-planning is still valuable. If you have access to recording or streaming video, consider which sessions would be of most interest to off-site attendees and consider scheduling (or at least “pencilling in”) those topics in advance. Asking about specific topics people would like to talk about on the registration form can help organizers create a list of topics in advance. This can be compiled to reduce duplication of topics and to clarify the primary interests. For example, see the document that ZLuC 2018 organizers created from registrant proposals and our own brainstormed lists, as well as the spreadsheet shared with attendees a few days before the event where they were invited to upvote (+1) each topic they were particularly interested in. This helped the day-of schedule planning run more smoothly.

Housing

One of the biggest costs for attendees is housing. People attending ZLuC are often not financially supported by their workplace, so the more variety in options and cheap options you can provide the better. Does your city have a hostel? Are there university dorm rooms available in the summer? (Many great ZLuC memories have been made in late night dorm room hangouts.) Can you offer a couch for an attendee or arrange homestays with people you know and trust? (Consider pet allergies and access to public transit.)

Promotion/outreach efforts

The primary source of info for zine librarians is the Zine Librarians Yahoo email list. That group is the most active source of information and the best way to people who are interested in ZLuC news. Other important zine librarian communication venues include the Zine Librarians Facebook page and the Zine Pavilion Twitter account.

Appendix B contains two versions of the promotional script for ZLuC 2018 emails. Important things to note in all promotional info includes the fact that the event is free and that it is open to anyone who is interested in the topic, not just MLIS holders/traditional librarians. You may want to specifically invite zinesters in your area, so they know they are welcome to participate.

Places to promote:

  • local libraries and archives (“traditional” and volunteer/activist)
  • state library associations (your state & neighboring states)
  • local/independent bookstores/record stores (anywhere that sells zines)

Artwork: we were lucky enough to work with a visual arts professor who had students create mock-ups of a potential ZLuC 2018 promotional poster as part of their course portfolio. We selected one of the students’ work as our poster to create the “official” image, which helped us promote online as well as offline via posters. If your institution has provided funding for the event, consider paying the artist. If planning to print the artwork, be sure to ask for high resolution images (300 dpi is fine) with the appropriate dimensions (e.g., 11″ x 17″ for a poster, 8.5″ x 11″ for flyers, 4″ x 6″ for a postcard (with a ⅛” bleed).

Supplies

  • Whiteboard or chalkboard (or, less optimally, a paper easel) to plan out the schedule for each day. This should also be posted on the website (see, for example, the ZLuC 2018 session schedule, which was posted along with the event schedule).
  • Nametags

Food

If you have the funds to provide food, that’s great! Be forewarned that people will complain about the options available to them, even at a free event. The more information you can give people about the food that will be available (for example, describing whether there will be vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free food available) and when folks will be on their own for food, the better people can plan. Ask questions about dietary restrictions on the registration form to help you plan. Even if you think you’ve covered all your bases, it’s helpful to be able to share information about food alternatives nearby. If you’re not within walking distance to food options, you’ll need to be even clearer about food provided so people can bring food as needed.

Providing free coffee and pastries has been standard; full lunch options are nice but not required. Just as you should be clear about food options, be clear about when food is provided for free and when people will be on their own to purchase food.

Fun

Traditionally at least one off-site event has been planned along with ZLuC. This often takes the form of a zine reading. A zine reading can be quite unstructured: just arrange a space at an interesting local store/event space, bring snacks, and let people know in advance that they should bring something to read.

Attendees will likely want to visit other zine libraries or shops where zines are sold while they’re in town; compiling a list of highlights on the website will help visitors plan their time. Depending on your capacity, you may want to organize a formal field trip to other zine libraries in the area, or just let people know about it so they can go on their own.

Offsite access

Recording and/or streaming video is a nice thing to have for those who are not able to attend ZLuC in person. Your institutions’ capabilities will determine what is technologically possible, and the size of your organizing group will determine what is feasible in terms of logistics. Not many people typically take advantage of the offsite access, so if this doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. If you want to and can provide this, appoint a person for whom this is their primary responsibility.

Code of conduct

Having a code of conduct is important for organizers to rely on during event planning and as a way to hold attendees accountable during the event. The ZLuC 2018 code of conduct is listed in Appendix A.

In addition to having a CoC available on the website and referred to during the event, it’s important to have a way for attendees to contact organizers through the event in case of problem behavior or actions. At ZLuC 2018, we had a Google Voice “burner” phone number set up so attendees could have one number to call or text that would alert a number of organizers to a question or problem.

Consider what course of action will happen if the CoC is breached. Who will be responsible for taking action? How will decisions be made? You should have the contact info for your institution’s security team readily available.

Document management

The ZLuC 2018 organizers used Google Drive to maintain documentation. Documents created included:

  • Registration list
  • Session proposals (gathered/brainstormed before the event)
  • Planning meeting notes
  • Promotion/outreach efforts (keeping track of who was contacted)

BIPOC travel grant

In order to increase the representation of library workers of color and zinesters of color at ZLuC, donations have traditionally been collected in the spring to fund the transportation, housing, and/or childcare costs for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color) who are interested in attending. A general timeline:

  • late January: form a travel grant selection committee
  • early February: start collecting donations (via PayPal, snail mail contributions, etc.) & post an application form in early February
  • mid-March: end collection of donations and applications by mid-March
  • late March: selection committee ranks applicants and determines how many applicants can receive funds based on donated amount. Applicants are ranked by their level of interest/experience/involvement with zines & libraries, their need for funding, and the amount requested
  • early April: notify all applicants of their status (be sure to allow time to get acceptance from applicants before the deadline for letting folks know they didn’t receive funds). The earlier the better for better travel prices and planning purposes.

In the past, the organizer of ZLuC has not necessarily been the organizer of the travel grant. Get in touch with Violet with questions about who will organize the travel grant in 2019.

Selecting next year’s site

Part of the ZLuC tradition has been having the organizers of ZLuC choose the site of the next year’s ZLuC. There is a lot of flexibility in how this can happen, but a typical timeline can look like this:

  • early October: form a committee. Five members seems to be a good number for the site selection committee. If possible, representatives from different types of libraries (academic, public, etc.) should be represented.
  • mid-October: post the ZLuC site proposal form. View the 2018 proposal form; the questions are designed to give potential organizers a feel for what kind of things the committee will be basing their decision on (e.g., adequate event space, access to cheap housing, reasonable airfare from a variety of locations, public transit, etc.)
  • early December: selection committee ranks the proposals and has an in-person or phone meeting to make decisions. Things to consider:
    • Geographic considerations: can people get there? Cheap-ish? Is it too close to the previous year’s ZLuC? One goal is to have a wide variety of people be able to attend at least one ZLuC; varying the location helps with that. (Map of previous ZLuCs.)
    • Has the organizer attended ZLuC before? You definitely don’t want to only select people from part of the “in-group,” but ZLuC can be a hard sell for library administrators who may or may not know what zines are, so having an organizer who is well-versed in the promotion of zines in libraries can help. In addition, unconferences have unique challenges, so an organizer who has attended one before will have an easier time understanding and explaining the concept to others.
  • mid-December: let all applicants know about your decision; announce the next ZLuC site on the Yahoo email list and share organizer toolkit with selected organizers

Lessons learned

Not everyone knows what an “unconference” is, and the concept is disorienting for attendees expecting a “normal” conference. Attendees need to be clued in that this event will be unlike more formal events in a number of ways: for example, there may not be “experts” in the room if people have questions, and attendees should be prepared to engage in a more significant way than at other events. This information should be given to attendees before they show up, as well as at the beginning of the event day(s).

Appendices

Appendix A: ZLuC 2018 Code of Conduct

The Zine Librarians unConference (ZLuC) is a safer space, which means that it is intended to be a welcoming, engaging, and supportive environment free of oppressive actions, behaviors, and language. Participants are asked to consider how their language and behavior impacts others in attendance.

Harassing or abusive language or behavior will not be tolerated at ZLuC, including:

  • racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and all other forms of discrimination
  • sexual harassment, stalking, or intimidation
  • inappropriate physical contact
  • disruptive or disrespectful behavior
  • action or language that makes other participants feel unwelcome or unsafe

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Should an issue arise with a participant before the event, ZLuC organizers will listen to concerns and find a solution that is in the best interests of the community and the event being a safer space. ZLuC organizers reserve the right to limit attendance to the event for any reason.

Should an issue arise with a participant during the fest, ZLuC organizers will be available to mediate on-site and attempt to find a solution. ZLuC organizers reserve the right to ask any participants who are violating the safer space policy to change or address their unsafe behavior or language, or to leave the event. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please notify one of the ZLuC organizers immediately.

We expect participants to follow these rules at all ZLuC event venues, including social events.

Appendix B: ZLuC 2018 script for promotional emails

Short version:

The Zine Librarians unConference is coming to Minneapolis July 12-14! ZLuC is a fun and informative gathering of people who work with zines in libraries and archives. This year’s event will be held at three venues: Minneapolis Community and Technical College, University of Minnesota Twin Cities Libraries, and Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central. Whether you’re thinking of starting a zine collection, planning your first zine workshop, or already considering the nitty-gritty details of maintaining your collection, consider attending one or more days of ZLuC 2018. Registration is free and open now! Find more information at tinyurl.com/ZLuC2018.

Long version:

The Zine Librarians unConference is coming to Minneapolis this summer! Please mark your calendars for July 12-14 and spread the word!

The Zine Librarians unConference, aka ZLuC, is an informative and fun gathering of people who care deeply about zines. ZLuC is a multi-day affair that welcomes workers and volunteers from public, academic, and special libraries, as well as community-oriented independent libraries and archives. Like other unconferences, the topics that will be discussed aren’t determined in advance—they’re decided on by participants during the event. Typical topics covered include collection development, event programming, teaching with zines, preservation, and cataloging. This year’s event will be held at three venues: Minneapolis Community and Technical College, University of Minnesota Twin Cities Libraries, and Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central.

Best of all, registration for ZLuC is free. Whether you’re thinking of starting a zine collection, planning your first zine workshop, or already considering the nitty-gritty details of maintaining your collection, consider attending one or more days of ZLuC 2018! Find more information at tinyurl.com/ZLuC2018.

Appendix C: Potential social media/recording/photos policy

ZLuC 2018 did not have a social media/photographs policy, but we wish we had. Below is the Recording/Social Media Policy from the NYC Archives Unconference held at Barnard College in 2014, which may be useful as a template for future ZLuC policies:

We see the unconference as a place to share information, not only with other participants, but also with those who may not be able to attend. Sessions are, by default, considered open and can be written about on social media and photographed. If you do not want your picture taken, your words to be recorded or for either photographs or words to be attributed to you, please let other session participants know that. As a courtesy, please always ask prior to creating sound or video recordings of any sessions. Please be thoughtful and respectful with your photographs, recording, and sharing.Each session can decide to adopt different rules at the beginning of the session (e.g., completely private, or no attribution without asking first) as long as it informs all participants who join the session.