Zines and Librarianship

For the second part of my master’s project literature review, I took a look at two articles about zine librarianship.

Dodge, Chris. “Collecting the Wretched Refuse: Lifting a Lamp to Zines, Military Newspapers and Wisconsonalia.” Library Trends. 56.3 (2008): 667-677.

Dodge, a prominent advocate for the collection of underground and alternative media in libraries, profiles the work of Wisconsin Historical Society librarian Jim Danky. Danky’s commitment to collection ephemera, zines and self-published materials serves as a model for other librarians working towards documenting the democratic history of people and places. Dodge’s thesis is that collecting self-published and small run publications is the duty of any library or historical society committed to preserving the literary history of a place or era. The zines, handbills, and military newspapers in Danky’s collection provide a glimpse into a part of history, the voices of marginalized individuals and groups that would otherwise be lost were they not collected. While profiling Danky’s work, Dodge discusses some of the scholarship being conducted with zines and makes a strong case for their inclusion in public and academic collections. For Dodge, zines, as documents of culture beyond the mainstream, are valuable research tools. If a researcher is interested in the history of a locale or group outside of New York City or other metropolitan center, zines and small-run publications will be the best source of information. Danky collects zines and other ephermeral publications because “no one else will,” clearly emphasizing Dodge’s point about the responsibility for cultural heritage institutions to preserve all histories, even those outside the mainstream, for future generations of scholars. Dodge’s message is that all librarians need to consider what value alternative press publications could add to their collections.

Freedman, Jenna. “A DIY Collection.” Library Journal. 131.11 (2006): 36-38.

Jenna Freedman, Zine Librarian at Barnard Library, has published several articles and given many interviews about her experience founding the Zine Collection, but this article is perhaps the most instructional. In it, she describes all of the considerations and challenges that go into planning and creating a zine collection in a library. She covers everything from writing a winning proposal, purchasing and selecting zines, cataloging and shelving. Freedman draws on the work of Dodge, Danky, and others to summarize why zines are useful additions to a library’s collection. Freedman’s biggest contribution to the literature here is in offering concrete advice to other librarians who might be considering a zine collection, or any other kind of non-traditional collection. Freedman’s collection, enthusiasm, and advocacy stand as a model for other professionals and institutions.


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