Zines are handmade, self-published and non-commercial publications which are usually not widely distributed. They touch on a diverse range of topics, from perspectives that are not typically addressed in mainstream publications. Zines are known for their DIY or “underground” look and feel.
In July 2018, Hennepin County Library launched the Zine Collection which is housed in East Lake, Hosmer and Minneapolis Central libraries. The collection began in response to patrons’ interest in zines. Interest was manifested in the community that attended the Minneapolis Central Library's TransFabulous zine-making workshop who wanted to see these kinds of publications shared in the library’s collection.
The librarians responsible for starting the Zine Collection at HCL were Gail Mueller Schultz, Ellen Buskirk, Amy McNally, and Margit Wilson. They organized their efforts to implement the process in selecting the collection and system for circulating the collection within the library locations.
Hennepin County Library is not a stranger to having a Zine Collection. Almost 20 years ago, Walker Library had zines that were donated by a zine distributer that had closed for business. The zines were held loosely in magazine bins. This collection was not cataloged in the library system and therefore did not circulate. This unofficial collection disappeared after Walker’s renovation in 2014.
Margit Wilson shared that the team of librarians that worked to conceptualize what it meant for the library to collect zines wanted to focus on making the collection diverse, equal and inclusive. Wilson said, “Zines are a platform that is accessible to readers and to makers seeking a format to express their thoughts and experiences.”
The collection currently holds zines that address topics such as:
- Gender identity and expression
- Mental health
Having a zine collection in the library “Allows us to have materials in the library that address topics not addressed by mainstream publications and add voices that are not heard in the traditional library collection,” said Wilson.
Another focus was to ensure that these publications were treated as a legitimate format. Unlike the previous collection at Walker Library, all zines are cataloged. Patrons can browse through the zine collection in the library catalog. The zines can also be checked out. Another change implemented was a preservation measure to help maintain the life of the zines. Each zine is housed in a sturdy plastic sleeve to help protect from damage and wear as the zines circulate throughout the Library.
Since its launch the response from the Zine Collection has been positive overall. Currently the collection has a just over 150 zines and will continue to grow. Zine makers can donate their zines and which may possibility to be added to the collection.
For more information on donating zines to the library read our donation guidelines.