July is International Zine Month! But what’s a zine, you might ask? A zine is a handmade, self-published little magazine made for passion, not profit. The independently published and underground magazines and fanzines are a medium that is growing in popularity in libraries. Zine culture has covered all manner of topics from science fiction, the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s to large scale political topics. Brainscan Zine’s Alex Wrekk* created the first International Zine month in July of 2009.
Wrekk states that the celebration is not a spectator sport. She recommends setting up a zine reading, zine swap, cut and paste party, zine fest, or even a simple zine workshop. Write a letter to every zine you read, leave your zine at random places around town like buses, bathrooms or universities. Order zines directly from the creator, make a shirt with iron-on letters that says “ask me about zines,” make buttons with phrases like “zines saved my life” or “do you read zines?”
Zines by the Number (according to the American Libraries magazine):
There are 138 libraries in the United States that have a zine collection according to Barnard College Zine Library in New York City.
It took 10 minutes for the Chicago Zine Fest to sell out of artist tables in May of 2019.
The average price of zines sold at Zinecinnati, Cincinnati’s first zine festival on June 8, 2019 was $5.
Seventy six percent of zines by people of color discuss issues of race and racism.
There were 80 contributors to The Tenth zine’s first issue in 2014. The Tenth serves as an outlet for black and brown queer individuals to express themselves on issues in their respective communities.
The first science fiction zine, The Comet, was published in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago.
A Hugo Award for Best Fanzine was given in 1955 at the World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland.
Mike Gunderloy spent $1,000 in January 1987 to print Factsheet Five. It’s a review periodical and that issue featured 600 reviews of fanzines.
In 2012, the Zine Pavilion went to the American Library Association Annual Conference to showcase zines from across North America and to educate librarians on how to start their own zine collection.
A maximum of 5,000 circulating copies of a zine is allowed to classify a publication as a zine according to the University of Texas Library. Most zines barely reach 1,000 copies though.
According to Elizabeth O’Brien, you need three things to create your own zine: paper, a writing utensil and a photocopier.
Library Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Tina Winstead is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Monday. Her columns may also be found online at www.thedailystar.com/community/library_corner.
*Corrected at 9:12 p.m. July 10, 2019, to correct the spelling of Ms. Wrekk's last name and her gender.