Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crafts & Hobbies #64: Zines

In Chip Rowe’s The Book of Zines, the author defines zines (or ‘zines) as “cut-and-paste, ‘sorry this is late,’ self-published magazines reproduced at Kinko's or on the sly at work and distributed through mail order and word of mouth…They're Tinkertoys for malcontents. They're obsessed with obsession. They're extraordinary and ordinary.”

This post is worth .5 training hours.

Perhaps the first zines were science fiction fanzines of the 1940s, providing individuals and communities within the science fiction fan empire an avenue to review, create and organize around their love of the genre. Since that time, however, zines have evolved to represent a variety of subjects and communities: there are zines for fans of specific films, music groups, or genres, autobiographical zines, political zines, DIY zines, zines full of recipes…practically anything and everything one could think of.

Some zines are professionally bound, others stapled and copied in black and white on a Xerox copier. Furthermore, as other interest groups and communities have migrated to the internet, so have zine communities, now publishing e-zines – either an entirely internet-based electronic zine or a website promoting traditional print zines. There are several online directories of e-zines available.

For those of us in the library world, Library Journal will occasionally review zines. There are also a few public and academic libraries around the country that have zine collections, including: Crestline Branch Library of San Bernardino County, Michigan State University Library, New York State Library, Salt Lake City Public Library, and San Francisco Public Library, among others. There are also several librarians who self-publish zines, including the Lower East Side Librarian, a librarian at Barnard College.

Getting Started in Creating Your First (Paper) Zine


What do you want your zine to be about? Do you have a special interest that you could talk about all day? Maybe it’s cooking, knitting, motorcycles, reading…yourself?


Something that prints text (a typewriter, your computer, your hand)
Something that allows images, if you so desire (that old box of National Geographics, your Microsoft licensed clip art, your hand)
Something that can bind paper (a stapler, a fancy spiral-binding machine, needle and thread)

Preparation Work

I personally like to think out my entire text before beginning anything else. I hand-set all my zines (I physically lay out each item), but you could use software (like Microsoft Publisher or Microsoft Word) to arrange your text and any pictures you’d like to include.

You will want to determine how many pages you want to make your zine and how large you want the pages to be. I will sometimes use ½ of a regular sheet of paper (making four pages per sheet) or divide the page into fourths (8 pages per sheet) or sixths (12 pages per sheet). I would advise folding your paper and making sure the numbering is correct before laying out your text or pictures. Even if you are using a computer to help you lay out your text, you could still make mistakes in orientation or numbering that you would not notice until it comes time to cut and staple it all together.

I think something important to remember when making a zine is that creating something with a “professional” appearance or being the most amazing artist or the best writer is not integral to making something awesome. As with anything else crafty, the more you practice, the better you can become. In the beginning, just try not to censor yourself too quickly; letting yourself experiment without judgment can result in something surprising – sometimes it is absolutely awful and other times positively wonderful!


1) In your blog, discuss whether or not you think you might make your own zine. What would be the topic or focus?

2) Library Journal reviews them, some libraries collect them, and some librarians produce them. What do you think of zines inside the library?

HCPL Staff: Have you completed this exercise? Then Submit your Registration of Completion

This post was brought to you by Meredith Layton.

No comments: