Library collections, archives and other information that aren't accessible online, and how to find them. Use the links at top right to ask a question or submit a post. Contact: jacquelinekbarlow [at] gmail [dot] com or tweet @thatsnotonline

Jacqueline's posts / Jennifer's posts

Read the Printed Word!

The Chicago Read/Write Library

Image courtesy of readwritelibrary.org.

About a month ago we reblogged a photo set on the Chicago Read/Write Library. A further review of the subject shows that this is an institution after our own heart, and deserves a bit more attention, especially with an acquisitions policy like this:

We accept everything from the area (ever), regardless of perceived quality or importance in order to create a detailed index from which connections among the publications will emerge.

It’s like the Library of Congress of Chicago, except more comprehensive.

Their catalogue contains about 700 items and may be searched here.  For their most obscure items of all, take a look at the Obscurity Meter. A few gems:

Locations of catalogued items are generally in the Chicago area though some are as far afield as Pennsylvania and Oregon.

The website is light on information about the Library’s founders and history. The New York Times reports that the library, formerly known as the Chicago Underground Library, has been around for about six years and had as many homes, and is staffed entirely by volunteers.

The Chicago Read/Write Library is on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and can be emailed here.

Zines

Photo of Opinionated Geordie Monsters issue 2 from zine-it-yourself.

The author of this post fondly remembers reading an article about zines in a 1995 issue of Seventeen magazine, and being blown away by the idea of publishing and distributing one’s own publication with no more equipment than a photocopier and stapler.  Sixteen years later distribution, at least, has become easier and cheaper, though blogging, tweeting and the like do come with complications print media never dreamed of.  And yet there are some who prefer to draw, print and staple it themselves by putting out old-school zines.  While e-zines do exist, some zines remain defiantly print-only.

In How the Fanzine Refused to Die (The Guardian, Monday 2 February 2009), Simon Reynolds muses, “Although it’s hard to quantify, it feels like the fanzine is making a resurgence in the face of digital culture, just like that other analogue format, vinyl.”  Indeed, Zineswap reveals a thriving British zine culture.  From their Facebook page:

Zineswap aims to be a resource through which people can swap their zines with one-another.

It also aims to become a vast archive of contemporary zine publishing, existing as both an online catalogue and an annual exhibition.

We are looking for contributions from people that self-publish their own zine or magazine. Content is not limited in anyway, your zine can be about anything.

This post on their blog describes a massive zine-making effort involving “24 strangers + booze + pritt sticks + byros + magazines + polaroid camera + enthusiasm + adrenaline”.

Though they are wedded to print, zine-makers still comprise a thriving online community.  We Make Zines is a social network of 3,321 members.  It is, naturally, for people who make zines.  The forum includes discussions on printing techniques, good and bad ways to bind your zine, where to find zines, and how to get your zine reviewed, among other topics.  Zine World is “a source for reviews and information about zines, comics, self-published books, chapbooks, and other DIY stuff.”  Zine World is staffed by volunteers, and emphasizes the independent, counterculture aspects of the zine community.  Broken Pencil, a Canadian publication, bills itself as “The Magazine of Zine Culture and the Independent Arts”.  Zinescene UK on livejournal offers a forum for British zine publishers, writers and readers.

Want to get your hands on some zines?  Any of the communities above will have information on distributors and vendors.  Radical Reference offers a list of alternative libraries and infoshops in the United States, zine libraries among them.  SLCPL Alternative Press of the Salt Lake City Public Library offers this guide to zines, including links to general info sites, contact info for zine libraries, and distributors (or distros), in the United States, Canada and internationally.  Here is the blog of the Papercut Zine Library of Somerville, Massachusetts and another for the Toronto Zine LibraryZine Library has scanned some print zines for you to download.

Finally, many public and academic libraries have zine collections.  A selection, culled from a quick Google search:

  • The British Library has a collection of zines and alternative comics.
  • the Zine Library at Barnard College, New York, NY, contains “punk rock self-publications by young women.”  They also offer information on zines at Barnard and elsewhere, including learning resources for zine librarians.
  • Zineopolis at the University of Portsmouth, UK, is a collection of zines that have been produced by illustration students at the university, as well as purchased and donated zines.
  • Multnomah County Libraries of Oregon offer zines at several of their locations, as well as an informative online guide to zines in general.
  • Linebaugh Public Library in Tennessee has a zine collection, and accepts donations.  Check the site for further information and resources on zines.

Further Reading

Jeremy Gardner.  “Zines in the academic library: a literature review.”  Library Student Journal, May 2009. http://www.librarystudentjournal.org/index.php/lsj/article/viewArticle/101/245 Accessed 29 March 2011.

Annie Knight.  “Scratching the surface: zines in libraries.”  grrrlzines.net, 1 May 2004.  http://grrrlzines.net/writing/zinesinlibraries.pdf Accessed 29 March 2011.

Teal Triggs.  Fanzines.  Thames & Hudson, 2010.

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