04_Book_Reviews

Zines in Libraries: Selecting, Purchasing, and Processing. Eds. Lauren DeVoe and Sara Duff. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2022. 176 p. $64.99 softcover (ISBN 978-0-8389-3804-1).

Zines in Libraries: Selecting, Purchasing, and Processing offers a useful overview on the challenges that zines bring to typical library workflows. Zinesters (i.e., those who create and publish zines) working in libraries have made resources like zinelibraries.info and zinecat.org available for some time and now that information has been organized nicely into this volume, written by some of the same professionals. The majority of the authors are zinesters themselves and their combined love and knowledge of zine production shines through this volume of practical advice.

Meg Metcalf’s introductory chapter describes zines’ inherent characteristics—their underground origins, emphasis on self-publication, creators’ need for anonymity, and fraught relationship with copyright—and the thriving zinester community. In chapter 2, “The Importance of Acquiring Zines,” Joan Jocson-Singh highlights Lehman College Library’s experience with building a zine collection as an outgrowth of its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and provides the reader with the benefits that the library reaped from developing this collection: “pedagogical and creative approaches to tactile learning in one-shot library instruction classes; a voice for marginalized students, staff, and faculty; building a community that is diverse and inclusive” (12). Katrin Abel delves into actionable advice in chapter 3, “Zine Collection Development: Policy, Selection, and Promotion,” through the experience of building Austin Public Library’s zine collection. Readers will gain many ideas for effective implementation of zine collection that eschews traditional shelving arrangements (e.g., Dewey Decimal, by author) and translate these ideas to fit their library.

The next three chapters showcase the relevancy of zines in multiple arenas and their usefulness for learners. Joshua Lupkin’s chapter provides a case study of Latin American fanzines that function as “primary documents that can provide . . . an unmediated view of the aspirations and practices of young people who are engaging in political activism” (42). Mica Johnson’s “Zines in School Libraries” discusses zines’ educational value for elementary and middle school aged children. Marta Chudolinska’s “Zines Online” addresses that the internet has not hindered zine production, but in fact expanded their audiences by making them available widely, whether through e-zines or increasing visibility of acquiring print zines.

Zines’ non-traditional nature presents complications for a library worker’s day-to-day workflow. In chapter 7, “Zines and Acquisitions: Adventure and Conundrum,” Lauren DeVoe discusses the challenges of acquiring non-traditional publications through traditional procedures; for example, zines being sold through e-commerce platforms (e.g., Etsy, Storenvy) that are prohibited as options for institutional purchases. Additionally, DeVoe describes how zine acquisitions present ethical challenges through their origins as publications that challenge the status quo and notes, “many zine creators don’t want to have to sell their creations at the institutional level or get involved with a lot of the traditional means of capitalistic purchasing” (77).

The next two chapters address an oft-heard question in the professional zine library discourse: how shall these non-traditional publications be made discoverable, both on the shelves and in the catalog? In their respective chapters, “The Barnard Zine Library: The Controlled and the Wild,” and “The Zine Union Catalog,” Jenna Freedman and Lauren Kehoe explore answers. Barnard Zine Library has significant holdings in their circulating and non-circulating collections, so Freedman offers a dual perspective and provides useful flowcharts of Barnard’s process for making zines available. Kehoe addresses access through describing the Zine Union Catalog’s role in helping zine libraries share their holdings and metadata.

But how should libraries physically handle these underground publications that don’t have a standard size or binding? Ziba Pérez’s chapter, “Circulating Zines,” offers insight and advice to the questions of whether zines should circulate or not, and when to repair zines versus replace them. In chapter 11, “Zine Preservation,” Jeremy Brett addresses the ramifications of preserving zines and whether the library’s mission aligns with the creators’ original intentions. Some creators may not respond well to efforts to create enduring access for their creations, which certainly complicates efforts such as digitization. Respecting the creators’ wishes when developing a zine collection is clearly the ethical solution, as evidenced in this chapter and throughout the rest of the book.

In chapter 12, “Our Zine Futures: A Call for Accessible, Inclusive, and Diverse Zine Communities,” Ann Matsushima Chiu discusses the results of a survey specifically distributed to zinesters where they were asked their opinion on the future of zines and calls upon zinesters to “challenge the elitist, racist, gatekeeping, patriarchal, capitalist and other oppressive forces” (150) as a critical component to ensuring a thriving zine community. Chiu writes, “zines are the platform for the underrepresented voice, so the future of zines must continue to be so” (150).

This call is an apt conclusion. With the appropriate support, zines are clearly a practicable option for libraries exploring how to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in their collection in a tangible, effective way that is not a perfunctory virtue signal. And for those who decide “yes, let’s try zines”—this book is for you.—Shay Beezley (sbeezley@uco.edu), University of Central Oklahoma

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