The mysterious trailer donning the words “Collaboratory” that has been sitting in front of Rocky for several weeks has finally opened it’s doors and revealed it’s purpose. The vehicle is the location of Collaboratory, a series of workshops on zines held by the Research Library. The event is taking place all week, from April 21 to April 26.
A zine is a DIY publication that consists of texts and images, often in small circulation. Its topic ranges from handmade art, to autobiographical writing, to social theory. Heidy Berthoud, Head of Acquisitions and Cataloging Services in the Library, one of the creators of the project, introduced the medium, “They can be very artistic or narratives—whatever you want to do with them. They are great primary sources, and they can get to quite personal issues.”
The workshops, designed to be an informal event, will open for students to drop in during the week. Librarians are going to be in the Collaboratory to instruct and answer questions. Model zines will be provided, giving students various options for inspiration and reference. A photocopier for use, and office supplies such as staplers, scissors, glue sticks and color markers are available for more labor-intensive works. The Research Library also prepared fingerpaint, Hula Hoops and bubbles to inspire more creativity and personal expressions. Carol Lynn Marshall, a Research Library in charge of the project, said, “Zine culture is very playful. That is the whole spirit of the Collaboratory.”
The initial purpose of the workshops was for the Research Library to introduce the campus to their new zine collection. Berthoud said, “This great new collection of zines will hopefully be installed in a prominent public area over the summer. The Collaboratory is a way to put them out in the middle of campus. People can stop by; they can look at the zines; they can create a zine with us, talk about zines or just hang out.” Regarding the origins of this collection, she added, “Most of the zines are from Feminist ZineFest and specialized comic bookstores and zine distributors.”
However, the new zine collection does not include many from Vassar, an aspect the Library is hoping to change through these workshops. Marshall said, “This is the seed collection to promote our collection of more Vassar ones.” Berthoud added, “We are trying to collect personal zines on things like gender, sexuality, consent – topics that might resonate with students on campus because a lot of the issues touched on in zines are not what you are going to find in your typical scholarly monograph or journal article. We want to have a collection where students could go read about an experience that has happened to someone and realize ‘that happened to me, too’ to find a common voice. It becomes a reflection of this community.”
The Research Library has been working on this project for a long time and is actively looking for zines on the Vassar campus. Marshall noted, “We found out that there are so many zines on campus – faculty members who wrote zines during their graduate school years.” Berthoud also remarked, “If we could get the faculty’s zines when they were graduate students, that is a whole other window into the event.”
The Collaboratory project has received some early support from many different groups on campus. Several organizations have scheduled specific time slots to come in during the Collaboratory week. Some others also donated zines to the collection. Marshall noted, “We have a ‘Breaking the Silence’ zin–both online and print copies. We also were donated one from a group of students who created a zine in response to the Westboro Church. Recently last week, Vassar Sustainability made a beautiful zine on Earth Day to promote sustainability on campus and gave that to us. Our seed collection of Vassar zines is growing. It is important for future Vassar generations to hear stories of the students.”
The Research Librarians were very excited about the latest zines from Vassar Sustainability, which has enriched their new collection. Kayla Abe ‘15, a representative from the group, talked about their product, “I work with Vassar Sustainability, part of the College Committee on Sustainability, and we made a zine over the past few weeks. It gives a brief summary of who we are as a committee, highlights sustainability driven organizations and administrative positions on campus, and covers some of the various projects and community events our committee undertakes. We liked the idea of a zine for how accessible of a medium it is, and how creative you can get when you have multiple pages to fill. It’s an inexpensive and fun way to share information that really only requires paper, pens, and access to a photocopy machine—though some zines don’t even need to be copied if they are each customized by hand.”
The Collaboratory is open for students until April 26. A new zine collection is coming up very soon.