Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

The Simmons Zine Collection

About a month ago, I started a new job working in Beatley Library on campus. I got my very own cubicle, equipped with a computer, a scanner and a label printer, but one corner is dominated by two boxes of uncataloged zines. I came to learn that Simmons houses a sizable collection of zines that have been curated for years, and it was the job of my predecessor to catalog and process them. 

Unfamiliar with zines? Here’s the rundown: “zines are a noncommercial, nonprofessional,

small-circulation magazines which their creators produce, publish, and distribute themselves” (Duncombe). There is usually a DIY crafting component in the creation of a zine, followed by photocopying, folding, and stapling into pamphlets. Zines are inexpensive and easy to make, which has led them to play an important role in activism. The Simmons librarian, Dawn Stahura, who really kicked off the zine collection wrote (in a zine): “Zines are not only creative they are unique primary sources, a gateway into the lives of the marginalized, the silenced, the overlooked.”

A unique cataloging system based on categories was developed specifically for the Simmons Zine Collection. These categories can be anything from activism (ACT) to gender (GEN) to race (RAC), with 33 categories total. The collection itself lives in the Library Reading Room and is separated into gray boxes that you can rifle through. Did I mention you can check out zines from the library, just like books?

After learning about the Simmons Zine Collection, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I helped put on an event with the SLIS student group SPECTRA. We brought in a local artist and illustrator to the Makerspace, where they taught a group of students all about the art of zine making. It turned out that 2 hours was not enough time to finish a zine, but everyone went home with a half-finished draft.

Today, a student from the workshop shared their completed zine with me. Each page was a line of their own original poem, surrounded by overlapping stickers, each page a different color. I could see the glint of pride in their eyes as I flipped through it, the reverence with which they held it in their hands. We’re working on making a copy, so that it, too, can be added to the Simmons Zine Collection.

I haven’t been trained on how to catalog all the zines in the boxes on my desk, yet. Something about the zines having a unique cataloging system, and me being a second semester student makes it a bit difficult, but I’m so excited to start moving these zines into the main collection, because I know just how meaningful all of them are. 

In the meantime, keep an eye out for new additions, and don’t be afraid to stop and check out a few zines yourself. Or, stop in to the Makerspace and ask about their zine-making materials. Don’t be afraid to make your own!

Duncombe, S. (1997). Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture [Zine].

Stahura, D. (2015). We All Scream For Zines! [Zine].