What are zines? Zines, short for “magazines”, are self-published pamphlets that are innovative in format and diverse in content. They do not comply with mainstream writing and publishing standards. Zine authors self-publish small runs of their work. They are not in it for the money, rather they create zines to express themselves and share with others.
Many zines are similar to journals and relay the author’s everyday experiences and hobbies, while others express beliefs and ideas not commonly shared by the political and social majority. Zines often reflect an independent spirit and promote connectedness.
Zines throughout history have had a rebellious spirit, many times countercultural. Zines started off by being called “fanzines”, short for “fan magazines”, focused on science fiction in the 1930s. In the 1970s the advent of the photocopier allowed zine-makers to produce their work cheaply and quickly. In the 70s and 80s the main hubs of zine culture were the underground press and the punk scene in London, LA and New York. In the 90s Riotgrrl zine production exploded in response to the male-driven punk scene. focusing on feminism and the validation of women’s experiences.
Today, zines are more diverse than ever. Common topics include DIY, politics, music, poetry, fan fiction, humor, social justice, mental health, autobiography and much more. Anyone can make a zine. There are no rules, just a blank page and a lot of freedom and space for creativity.
So how is WFPL going to celebrate Zine Month? We are going to encourage patrons of all ages to make their own zines. The Adult, Teen and Children’s departments with the assistance of HATCH will be giving out kits to all for those who would like to participate. We will provide prompts to get your creative juices flowing. If you wish, library staff will photocopy limited runs of your zine so you can share with others.
- Take and Make kits for Adults, Teens and Children. These kits will include prompts, instructions on how to fold and staple your zine, colored markers and pencils, washi tape, glue sticks and other creative materials. You must register for the Adult and Teen kits by filling out a google form located on the respective Take and Make webpages:
- On Monday, 2/8, Hatch Makerspace will be hosting an online Zine Roundtable, 7:00-8:30 PM. Learn about local zine resources from local zine makers. The Zine Roundtable will feature the Papercut Library, Adrian Alvarez from the Dorchester Art Project Zine Library, LiaLah Mawanda from watertown.storyshare, Seth Deitch who creates surreal dream zines, and Hassan Ghanny whose zines uplift people of color and people in diasporas. Tim Devin from the Somerville Public Library will also talk about their zine and small press collection. Register at watertownlib.org/zinetable
- A Zine Display in the front lobby of the Library. See how diverse zines can be!
Many public and academic libraries collect and catalog zines for their patrons to peruse and enjoy. It’s our goal to begin such a collection in WFPL’s Local History Department. We will also be gauging to see if there is interest in forming a Zine Club so that members can support each other and get feedback on their publications. Who knows, your zine may end up in the Library’s collection for those in the present and the future to enjoy!
We hope you will join in this February. Self-publish your own work! Share with others!
For more information and further resources, check out watertownlib.org/zines
—Carey, WFPL Teen Services Supervisor