zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Barnard Zine Library

via Aid & Abet by Jen Angel on 5/17/09
Here's Jenna with some other Radical Reference librarians in 2005 at the Allied Media Conference in Bowling Green

Here's Jenna (on the left) with some other Radical Reference librarians in 2005 at the Allied Media Conference in Bowling Green

While I was in New York in April, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Jenna Freedman at the Barnard Zine Library. The library, which Jenna started in 2003, holds over 2000 zines. Many of them are available in the library and you can just pick one off the shelf and read it. Students of Barnard and Columbia can just walk in to the library – and the collection is open to the public if you call ahead and tell them to expect you (so they will let you in without an ID). You can get all the info on their web page.

I have known Jenna for quite some time but had never visited the library. While the last few months have seemed to kick off a year of meeting and interacting with people and things from my past (like meeting lots of old punks while living in Portland for 3 months, or doing an interview for Mike McKee’s book all about ’90s hardcore, or looking through all my old copies of Fucktooth), visiting this library was particularly nostalgic for me. The collection has quite a few zines by women, and as I flipped through old copies of Emergency, for example, I couldn’t help but remember reading those issues for the first time, and how important they were for me. There were so many zines that were so intimate and personal and important, they really had an impact on me and how I think about myself and interact with people. Of course I haven’t talked to many of those people in eons, and I wonder where Ammi is these days, or Travis Fristoe from America? or Theo Witsell from Spectacle or Mike from In Abandon. Maybe I just need to search Facebook until I find them.

There were tons of old zines that I hadn’t seen in forever, but there were also tons more zines I had never seen – maybe that is the best part of libraries and bookstores, that they give you access to things you would never find otherwise. I loved browsing the zines, old and new, touching and holding them in a way that satisfies like the Internet never will.

emergencyWhen Jason (from Clamor) and I moved we gave thousands of zines to the Pop Culture Library at Bowling Green State University. I love that zine libraries exist, and I have my own box of favorites stashed under my bed. But when I get out old copies of Fucktooth – and even when I talk about doing another issue (which will be happening this summer), I want it to be in a way that is looking forward, and not dwelling too much on the past. I don’t want to be one of those people that always talks about the way things used to be, I want to know how I can help recreate those same feelings moving forward in a way that doesn’t leave us mired in the past. Just like I don’t always want to be the person who “used to publish Clamor.”

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