Library Holds ‘Zines’ Collection

July 11, 2011 5:45 AM

Aidan Smith

Unique in their perspective, "zines" (pronounced "zeens") are independently produced, frequently not-for-profit, and often quite personal publications that exist outside of other more recognizable publication types such as books, journals and newspapers. The Nadine Vorhoff Library of Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University is one of only two academic libraries with an active zine collection.


Make a Zine!, one of many publications in the collection of the Vorhoff Library at the Newcomb College Institute, is an instruction manual for zine makers on issues such as printing, publication and sustainability. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

The Vorhoff Library hosted the kickoff event of a national tour, "Orderly Disorder: Librarian Zinesters in Circulation" in conjunction with the American Library Association's annual conference held in New Orleans this summer.  

Part of the Newcomb College Institute, the Vorhoff Library holds its own collection of zines as well as a noncirculating collection. The noncirculating zines are located in the Newcomb Archives and range in dates from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. The collection contains landmark third-wave feminist zines and highlights the "riot grrl" movement of the late 1990s.    

The Vorhoff Library is interested in adding to its zine collection, especially those that focus on New Orleans, the recovery and rebuilding of the city, and the adventures of new transplants or former city residents, says Vorhoff librarian Bea Calvert.  

She notes that zines are a channel for voices that are often absent, which makes these materials particularly compelling for a New Orleans audience.  

"Although much has been written about Katrina, zines fill the void of stories about those New Orleanians who couldn't come back and are living somewhere else," says Calvert. "Zines are an important primary resource in academic libraries because they are independently published works that allow people of all walks of life to write about their opinions, narrate their stories, and illustrate their texts in an original context without the constraints of the publishing world."  

The Tulane event was part of a nine-city tour "Orderly Disorder" that is visiting Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee this summer.  

Aidan Smith is external affairs officer for the Newcomb College Institute.  

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000