Zine collections: An Australian perspective


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Presented by Jessie Lymn & John Stevens on January 23, 2009 at RAILS 2009 in Sydney , Australia.

This presentation considers a unique subcultural form - the zine - and examines two Australian examples of zine collections, one informal collection at the Octapod, a community arts space in Newcastle, NSW, and another collection in the Rare Printed section of the State Library of Victoria. These two collections have emerged over the past decade as significant collections of zines in Australia. Both collections are also currently the subject of research projects being undertaken in library and information studies institutions in Australia; research which aims to add to the small but growing body of knowledge of the field from an Australian perspective.

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Zine collections: An Australian perspective

  1. 1. Zine collections: an Australian perspective Jessie Lymn (UTS) John Stevens (State Library of Victoria)
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>RAILS5 - linking research with practice </li></ul><ul><li>Practitioner and research perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Early-stage research into emerging field of information and cultural studies </li></ul><ul><li>Unique communities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Zine makers, consumers, collectors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Site of resistance, non-conformance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opportunity for interdisciplinary research </li></ul>
  3. 3. Zines?
  4. 4. A problem of definition <ul><li>I use ‘zine’ as something more akin to a roughly held culture of literary productions and consumption, rather than a set object or a specific style of writing (Ware, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges collection practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Materiality/form </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Context </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Sometimes the point of making the zine can be lost in preserving or historicizing the moment or subculture. </li></ul><ul><li>Archiving zines – it's a sensitive matter. People write zines not expecting them to be around forever. Well, some people. They're intended to be disposable. </li></ul><ul><li>(Interview participants, 2008) </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Working from this, what needs to be considered when collecting and organising zines, and making them accessible? </li></ul><ul><li>This is the focus of current research in zine collection </li></ul>
  7. 7. Existing research <ul><li>Focus on definition and enlightenment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlights emerging area for libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most research presents case studies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>North American focus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis of implementation and management issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>cataloguing and acquisition </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited discussion of ideological/contextual issues </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Local collections <ul><li>Compare two Australian collections to each other and situate them internationally </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State Library of Victoria collection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Octapod collection, Newcastle </li></ul></ul><ul><li>smaller collections in state, national & public libraries, anarchist/community spaces, galleries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>out of scope for this project </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. State Library of Victoria zine collection
  10. 11. State Library of Victoria <ul><li>Rare printed section </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncatalogued </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approx 5,000 titles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collected since 2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Zines sourced from bookshops </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Polyester Books </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sticky Institute </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Current cataloguing project </li></ul>
  11. 12. The Octapod zine collection
  12. 13. Octapod collection, Newcastle <ul><li>Developed as part of National Young Writers Festival (run annually since 1998) </li></ul><ul><li>Grew from the festival and local zine collection </li></ul><ul><li>Nationally significant collection </li></ul><ul><li>Estimated 3000+ zines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grows by donation each year </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Current stocktaking project </li></ul><ul><li>Future plans for Community Heritage funding </li></ul>
  13. 14. Comparisons <ul><li>Both motivated by zine makers and consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional collection vs community space </li></ul><ul><li>Differences in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preservation standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acquisition policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Long term sustainability </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. Australian perspective? <ul><li>Small, disparate community of zine ‘librarians’ and collections </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Outside of established North American networks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ALA recognised </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ALA published ‘From A to Zine’ (Bartel, 2004) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Greater community recognition and support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extensive public library collections, independent collections </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Anchor Archive, Halifax, NS Photo: Keg de Souza
  16. 17. Independent Publishing Resource Centre, Portland, OR
  17. 18. Implications for future research <ul><li>Further examination of how resistant cultures challenge and inform library practice </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of non-traditional objects on information management </li></ul><ul><li>Value of collections within community spaces, not just institutional spaces </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engagement between institutions and other spaces </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>Further examination of Australian collections </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness of ideology and culture in library studies research and practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Value of case study methodology </li></ul></ul>
  19. 20. <ul><li>The idea of zine preservation … is more than a means of conserving memorabilia of an interesting period in the history of popular communication – it is a matter of protecting a cultural form whose very materiality is both its strength and its potential limitation (Leventhal, 2007, 1) </li></ul>
  20. 21. <ul><li>Bartel, J. 2004, From A to Zine: Building a winning zine collection in your library, ALA Editions, Chicago. </li></ul><ul><li>Leventhal, A. 2007, 'Imperfect Bound: Zines, Materiality, and the question of Preserving Ephemera', Canadian Association for the Study of Book Culture, Saskatoon, Saskatchwan </li></ul><ul><li>Ware, I. 2004, 'An Introduction to Zines and their Definition', New Media Poetics, vol. 3. </li></ul>