Library hosts Research Zine event

Carina Cole/The Miscellany News.

Our library hosted a “Zines For Research” event on Wednesday, April 3, to help students utilize the medium for potential research projects and theses. The hosts of the event—which was held in the Class of ’51 Reading Room—provided craft supplies, example zines, pizza and drinks for attendants. 

A zine, shortened from fanzine, is usually a small-scale, self-printed publication about a unique subject matter. Zines originally became a popular tool among fandom groups and feminist punk subcultures, like the Riot grrrl movement. They have a long history of challenging the mainstream and bringing together marginal groups in society. The form is aided in this mission by its accessible means of creation and distribution, bypassing traditional publication routes. One can make a zine quite easily at home with one sheet of paper. 

Carina Cole/The Miscellany News.

Vassar’s library is well-equipped to handle student interest in the art form and is actively seeking to give life to Vassar zines. The College employs its own Zine Librarian—Melanie Maskin. The college also  has its own zine collection and zine-making kits available for check-out during the library’s operating hours, at the circulation desk. The zine collection is located on the second floor of the building near the Class of ’51 Reading Room. The library has been collecting works since around 2015—you can get in contact with the curators of the collection at their very own email address, They are happy to accept student submissions to add to the growing catalog. 

One interesting zine in Vassar’s collection—brought as an example to the talk—is entitled “Cats Hate Cops” and contains newspaper clippings describing various cat attacks, whether it be against law enforcement or otherwise. There is no commentary or additional writings in the zine, just the clippings. It is an example of the versatility of a zine’s purpose. It can truly be about anything.

I plan to make use of library resources to publish my own limited-run zine about figures from my hometown, Kent, Ohio. The process of zine-making has led me to explore my hometown libraries’ archives, the archives of local private schools and my local historical society. I have learned of an early gay author, Lucien Price, who attended Harvard University and referenced Kent in his fiction books. I have encountered tales of (alleged) election-rigging that prevented Kent from having its first woman mayor in 1937. One underrated aspect of zine-making is experimentation. The scanning, collaging and formatting to create a new reading experience can be done in a low stakes environment, essentially for fun. It has helped me? invigorate stories from local history.

Carina Cole/The Miscellany News.

For seniors, the library is looking to assist with the performing and presenting of thesis work. A zine is a potential tool for communicating about topics, scientific or otherwise. “They’re an effective way to communicate aspects of your research to a variety of audiences, both inside and outside of academia, and you’re completely in control of all of the contents and visual elements of your zine,” says Maskin. “As the Zine Librarian, I’m always delighted to consult on zine projects! I’ve met with students one-on-one and in classes, and also worked with student orgs and campus departments to host zine-making workshops and events.”

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