Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, the SCRC acquired some new rare books to fill our stacks. These books are self-made, often self-published, and used as artistic and educational resources to tell narratives underrepresented in large press publications.
These rare books are zines.
As Anne Hays explains in a 2019 research survey about zines in libraries, zines “tend to be handmade paper publications with small print runs, are sold at or slightly above cost, and are intentionally nonprofessional. Authors write, edit, and publish the material themselves, which makes the material unique and personal to the author.”
The Zine Libraries Interest Group, a collective dedicated to ethically sharing and preserving zines, notes that these self-made publications are “usually created with the intention not to profit monetarily but to share one’s thoughts, feelings, creativity, experience, and/or knowledge with others. Zines are part of a DIY (do-it-yourself) culture which often includes people from marginalized communities or those who don’t have access to more mainstream publishing options.”
Zines are extremely affordable, ranging from a few cents to a few dollars. This means this form of storytelling is not driven by profit but by sharing and human interaction. Zines sell on platforms such as Etsy, the Big Cartel, and at zine fests around the country. Two zine fests occur annually in nearby Norfolk and Richmond each fall. At the Richmond Zine Fest 2019, SCRC staff attended presentations and workshops from local zine creators—all with varied interests and expertise but a mutual love for sharing stories and knowledge. At the tabling event, we acquired thirteen new zines and other ephemera for Special Collections, which you can find, along with other zines in our collections, on our Zines Research Guide.
A zine gifted to me by Research Librarian Alex Flores, Dismantling White Supremacy in Libraries & Archives, is an information guide to recognizing and confronting white privilege and racism in libraries and educational institutions. Laurin Penland, Leah Kerr, and Kelly Wooten created this zine in August 2019, and recently made it available for free as a PDF.
To the Rising Tide, a recent submission to our Documenting Life During COVID-19 Collection, is a weekly art zine from Alexandra Johnson ’22, an English and Linguistics major. Explore two installments of the zine on the W&M Digital Archive, and learn more about submitting your own stories and artifacts to the collection.
The purpose of the archive acquiring zines is to help enrich not only our collections but to tell crucial stories that come from the authors themselves. The purpose of an archive is to hold stories—to safeguard and share representative and truthful accounts of life lived—and by collecting zines we do just that.
Resources and More to Explore:
- Hays, A. (2019). Zine Authors’ Attitudes about Inclusion in Public and Academic Library Collections: A Survey Based Study. The Library Quarterly. Retrieved from https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/694869.
- Intro to Zines. n.d. Zinelibraries.info. Retrieved from http://zinelibraries.info/running-a-zine-library/intro-to-zines/.
- Explore the Zines in Special Collections Research Guide, a compilation of zines in our stacks sorted by topic.
- Learn more about International Zine Month from Stolen Sharpie Revolution.
- Read the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics (2015) from the Zine Libraries Interest Group.
- Download Dismantling White Supremacy in Libraries & Archives by Laurin Penland, Leah Kerr, and Kelly Wooten for free as a PDF.
- Read To the Rising Tides by Alexandra Johnson '22 on the W&M Digital Archive, and discover more digital material from the Documenting Life During COVID-19 Collection (MS 00326) on our collections database.
- Learn how you can submit your personal stories and artifacts, including zines, of life during COVID-19 to Special Collections at W&M Libraries.
- Find the zines featured in this blog post in the rare book catalog: