Despite not being as prolific a zine-maker as my peers, I’ve been making zines for nearly a decade, and my mother and aunt still forget how to pronounce the word (like “magazine” without the “maga”), but I think they understand what zines are—hand-made pamphlets or “mini-books” or, if we go along with the idea of a magazine, imagine that by dropping the “maga,” you drop all of the superficial gloss, the hierarchy, the advertisers that twist your original voice, content, and intent into a game of survival for mass appeal.
Zines can contain anything from art to poems to collective histories to recipes and other do-it-yourself tips to ... REALLY ANYTHING. A zine can be about as much as everything or nothing that the zine-maker desires. A zine can be any size or any length or make use of different materials, although your basic 8.5x11 sheet of paper folded in half is the most common.
Making a zine can be a radical act even if the zine is about Taco Bell or haikus about your cat because in a world where everything is literally within the click of button and a few keystrokes, putting something in print still matters. That’s why zines attract a diverse group of makers and readers of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. And now you can access a small collection of zines at Richmond Public Library!
The RPL Zine Collection is currently housed in Ready Reference at the Main Branch, but they can be checked out and returned to the circulation counter at any of the branches. All 78 issues are fully searchable via the library catalog.
1. Go to the library website at richmondpubliclibrary.org. Perform a keyword search for "zine."
2. Browse the listing of zines. Each zine has been given a number starting with 101. If you spot one that interests you, click on the title in blue.
3. Once you click on the title, you'll see the following holding information. The zine number (in this case ZINE 176) is what you'll need when you request the zine for check-out.
4. To learn what the zine is about, you'll want to click on "Catalog Record." As you can see, this particular zine published in Richmond, VA, is one where you'll be sure to read some poems related to summer and self-discovery.
All of the zines currently in the RPL Zine Collection were donated at the 9th Annual Richmond Zine Fest in 2015. Thanks to supportive librarians at the full-day event, several zine exhibitors were thrilled to donate zines, so RPL could establish a zine collection that would allow library patrons to experience what zines can be and maybe even be inspired to make some of their own! Read some of the zines that were available last year, and join us for another free event where artists and writers will have their zines available for purchase, trades, or in some cases for free! This year, Richmond Zine Fest will be at the Main Branch of Richmond Public Library with exhibitors tabling all day Saturday, October 1st.