Pop Culture and the zeitgeist of the zine

I went into our last Twitter chat not really being sure about what the night’s proceedings would bring. Most of our other chats have been fairly technical and on topic when it comes to librarianship. When I think of pop culture for some reason the first thing that comes to mind is ‘that’ Marilyn Monroe painting by Andy Warhol , Jimmy Hendrix  at Woodstock, Simon and Garfunkel, Reservoir Dogs  and Pulp Fiction, and The Matrix not necessarily in that order. And Miles Davis and…the list goes on and on. Just like everyone else’s I guess.

I was ready for  Game of Thrones memes, Kanye West Memes (I got those) and maybe even some obscure pop culture references that you would blink and miss. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed one topic propagating through the conversation and coming up again and again a number of times: Zines. Those great fan-made mixes of magazine/catalog/pamphlets/brochures made out of love and not for money. I only ever knew them as ‘fanzines’. I first read one as a child-it was 1980’s Madrid and my Dad would leave them lying around in his apartment. I started picking them up and reading them, somehow feeling the subversive nature of the politics and subject matter within. Even as a kid, I knew I was reading something that wasn’t the norm. And it was fun. From there I diverged into graphic novels and in Australia I lost track  of zines. It was fantastic to learn the other night the art form is experiencing a resurgence and a new generation is stepping out of the mainstream and finding refuge in something that is not governed by big brother.

From a librarian point of view the technical side appeared with a number of questions regarding the cataloging of zines in a library and the kind of shape they’d be in after they had been borrowed a number of times:

From my own perspective I think part of the allure of a zine is its evasive and enigmatic nature – it’s always exciting to make a find and to have to look for something that is not readily available. However, I think if the print run for a zine was to get to a size that warranted proper cataloging this would happen as a matter of course (surely with a motivated librarian stepping in and taking charge – I can think of a few).

From a Library program/makerspace point of view I think a “make your own zine” would be a winner. This could be a program used in a multicultural context as a way to reach out to different nationalities within the library’s community, a type of ‘artistic newsletter’, it would be interesting to see the particular culture’s effect on the production and subject matter of the zines. You could even encourage the participants to keep publishing their zines with the library stocking them on the shelves (although there could be issues with some patrons depending on the subject matter).

Long live zines.

 

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