Zines in the Library!

American Library Association (ALA) Conference, San Francisco

I attended the ALA annual conference in San Francisco this year because I was invited to present a poster session (Which you can see more about in my Previous Blog Post.) This organization is the largest organization of librarians in the world and the annual conference is considered to be one of the best attended professional conferences of any profession. In my acceptance letter I was informed that only 44% of people proposing a session were accepted so I consider this a huge honor.

In addition to the great opportunity this was for me professionally and for the school as a whole to be represented in this international spotlight, I was able to take advantage of the trip to San Francisco and attend the rest of the conference to gain new insights, learn about new trends, and meet many colleagues who will be helpful resources in my career.

Pre-conference session “Zines in Libraries: Collecting, Cataloging, and Community” Friday 6/26/15:

While many pre-conference session are quite pricey the one I selected on “Zines in Libraries: Collecting, Cataloging, and Community”, was very low priced at only $15. Presented by a panel of librarians involved in zine collecting, his half-day long session explored what zines are, how, and why we should have them in our library collections.

Zines are a form of independently created expression. They often take the form of a magazine that is printed on a home printer or photocopied on a standard copier so that they can be cheaply produced and distributed as widely as possible. They are an important part of a library collection, especially a library which supports an art school, because they allow for voices to be heard which are outside the “main stream” of professional publication. They give an outlet to people who are sometimes not heard. They can be used to distribute information, in an authentic way, to members of a community because they are being created by members of that same community.

The creation of zines can be seen as an art form of its own. They are different from internet blogs because of the physicality of the medium and can be another medium for expressing what the authors wish to express. They can also be used to help in the synthesis of information as a way of taking some knowledge or a story and manipulating it to create something new and demonstrate knowledge and a deep understanding of the concepts themselves. Some of the other attendees were teachers or museum professionals who have their students create zines as a part of their field trip experiences or as a way of retelling a topic they learned about in class.

Since zines are such a grassroots medium most cities have a zine culture and can therefore libraries collecting zines can help to enlarge their relevance to the citizens if their city. They are a great, and inexpensive, way of supporting local writers and artists and making the library unique and reflective of its area.

In this session I also learned about sourcing zines and how we can find them to buy. One of the best ways to purchase zines is directly through the artists at places like zine fairs which there are many of throughout the world, which can be found by searching the internet and sites such as stencil.wiki/fairs and the website of the Independent Publishing Resource Center.

Zines can also be purchased through distributors that specialize in zines, these are called “distros”. A few of the most popular distros are Quimby’s in Chicago, Atomic Books in Baltimore, BrownRecluse in Seattle, Division Leap found at spinelessandstaples.blogspot.com,and Stranger Danger in Chicago, all of whom are helpful and willing to work with libraries. Local zines can also sometimes be found at local stores selling local or handmade goods especially small music or bookstores.

There are also other resources I learned about for librarians with zine collections, the most robust being the Zine Librarians unConfernce. There are also magazines and blogs dedicated to reviewing zines such as Broken Pencil Magazine as well as sessions at major conferences where zines are reviewed such as the session that was held Sunday called Lightening Zine: Super Short Reviews for Zinesters and the Zine Curious.

When it comes to shelving and cataloging the zines there are many resources that can be helpful for the librarian. One helpful resource is WikiZine where librarians can work together and borrow each other’s summaries of the material so that the cataloger does not have to read each one in order to write their own description. Another helpful tidbit I picked up from the conversation that was happening is that sheet music folders are a great way to store zines so they can be shelved with the rest of the library collection.

There was also a lively debate which seemed to echo the wider zine world, about whether or not zines should be circulated or preserved for the future. Some points for circulation were: the purpose of zines is to be widely read and circulated as much as possible; they are current and topical, the contend is time sensitive; they make great library marketing if they go out into the community; allowing them to be ephemeral makes them much less expensive over their life. Some of the arguments against circulation them is that they will most certainly get damaged; they may provide a wonderful primary source record for the future; if they stay at the library they may actually be able to reach more readers over their life; if they don’t circulate they may not need to be cataloged.

This session included a workbook that set up like a zine and included in the back pages lists of very helpful resources for librarians looking into collection zines for their library.

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Zine Pavilion: Sunday 6/28/15

After learning about what zines are and how to us them in the library I visited the Zine Pavilion to see what materials I could find to take back to CCS for inclusion in our collection. The Zine Pavilion was an area of the exhibit hall where zinesters had set up almost like an artists’ alley at a comic book show. They were at individual tables with their creations set up and for sale. I was able to speak with many of them and many of them gave me copies of their work to include in our collection here at the College. Some others which seemed to be exceptionally relevant to us I purchased from them.

 

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