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Zine Librarians---Do You Have *ANY* Acceptance Restrictions?

A long time ago I wrote up a letter and sent copies out to a number of zine libraries. I asked similar questions as below:

Do you have ANY restrictions on CONTENT on the zines you will accept for your library?

Ideological? Will you accept Nazi, racist, fascist?

Religious, cultural, moral?---Bondage-pornographic, right-wing Christian....?

If not, do you have a statement of what you WILL and WHAT YOU WILL NOT, accept, on your website or basic info paper outlining your purpose, acceptance policies, DISCARD or REJECTION policies, etc., etc.

What do you do with zines "not appropriate" for you library? Put them on a free table? Donate them to other libraries? Throw them in the trash, or recyling bin?

Do you send acknowledgements of receipt, via postcard or e-mail, of donations received?

Do you send notices of REJECTION?

If any or all of these questions are provided on your website, let me know. I'll definitely take a look.

Thanks.
James N. Dawson

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At QZAP we're currently working on refining our collection policy. For the most part zines with queer content or zines by folks who identify as queer are acceptable. If a zine falls outside of our collection policy we will try to send it on to other zine libraries and collections where it would be a better fit. We don't often get things that fall outside of our scope, though.

Since we're independent we don't often need to worry about objectionable material. When something comes in that *is* objectionable or has content that is individually challenging we try to talk it out amongst ourselves to see if it ultimately has a place or not.

Below is an insertion-reply from Robb Richard Roemershauser to my questions in  the OP, above.  I've cut and pasted it to this discussion because I thought this would be a better place to continue it.  Robb's reply's are in bold.

Do you have ANY restrictions on CONTENT on the zines you will accept for your library?

no not really. bomb making zines are in the library.

Ideological? Will you accept Nazi, racist, fascist?

are you a nazi and I am not.

Religious, cultural, moral?---Bondage-pornographic, right-wing Christian....?

common sense

If not, do you have a statement of what you WILL and WHAT YOU WILL NOT, accept, on your website or basic info paper outlining your purpose, acceptance policies, DISCARD or REJECTION policies, etc., etc.

Anarchist library and common sense.

What do you do with zines "not appropriate" for you library? Put them on a free table? Donate them to other libraries? Throw them in the trash, or recyling bin?

I never throw away a zine, even if its not in the zine library itself.

Do you send acknowledgements of receipt, via postcard or e-mail, of donations received?

I have

Do you send notices of REJECTION?

no

Thank you, Robb, for your terse and frank replies.

No, I am not a Nazi, but I would prefer to send my zines to a place so scrupulously inclusive that it would include Nazi zines.  Even though I'm not a Nazi---and far from it---I imagine I might be in the minds of many in "the zine community". (I'm an animal-rights libertarian, with radical individualist/egoist leanings)

Who doesn't think they have "common sense"?  Two people who insist that their respective decisions were "common sense" may disagree totally.  Maybe it would be more accurate to say it's based on your personal judgements, values, mores, etc.  Of course it's your library and you have a right to include or exclude what you want in it, but "common sense" doesn't tell me much.

It's better than throwing zines away, and I appreciate that you don't do that, but just putting a zine in a box in a closet in a basement isn't much good for its creator either.

I'm a papernetter/paperphile who would like to see my zines preserved in as many brick and mortar libraries as possible.  But from what I see in print and on websites, if only reading "between the lines", is that most zine libraries/collections want only certain types of zines with only a narrow range of politics and social philosophy.  (A similar issue was brought up by Cocoapuss with respect to distros, http://wemakezines.ning.com/forum/topics/offensive-material). 

I just made a zine with a lot of prisoner poetry, pen pal ads and letters in it and to help these people in the gulag, I'm trying to find zine libraries that aren't so "choosy".  I can't afford to send off my zines to multiple libraries who may deem them "unacceptable".  (I also have classic old zines, real treasures, I've thought of donating, but I'm not sure if they'd offend or bore most zine librarians, and be tossed in a box at the laundromat.)

That's why I'm asking these questions.  To get some feedback.  Maybe the zine library that would welcome my zines doesn't exist.  That's something I'll just have to deal with.

With that, I will close with a quote from Dr. Erwin S. Strauss, owner and publisher of The (formerly Libertarian) Connection, enunciating his Grand Unified Theory of Human Behavior:

"Homo sapiens is a social primate, and as such organizes into groups, and contends for dominance within and between groups."

Something I suppose I must bear in mind when dealing with "the zine community".

 

...today your love, tomorrow the world...

When I worked with Zine Archive and Publishing Project we didn't get rid of anything unless we decided it wasn't a zine or self-published. We kept racist and white power stuff in a file and hadn't quite figured out how to display them. We felt like there should be a record of them in case someone wanted to use them for research, especially since some of that stuff is scarce, but we didn't want to condone them. One of the suggestions was to make a "hate" category rather than to mix it up with the inoffensive stuff. We were an archive, though, not a library, so we kept a lot of stuff that a library with a certain focus might not. However, at least as long as I was there, we never came to a conclusion as to how to display it, but we kept it.
I'm glad you were anti-censorship enough to archive the hate-zines, although I'm not quite clear about the difference between an "archive" and a "library". Was it that people could look and read, but not borrow?

It seems pretty obvious that there's a dominant far-left ideology among zinesters and they might consider libertarian-individualist zines "hate" literature, even if said zines disavow racism or any other kind of bigotry. Also, any zine that questions or critiques the dominant zine-culture ideology is likely to be rejected or ignored. I think this makes all the talk about "freedom of expression" a little hypocritical.

My understanding of "the zine community" was a network of zine-reviews/mutual promotion, libraries and archives that co-operated to preserve and create access to a wide range, indeed, ALL "fringe views" ignored by the major media, whether the individuals involved approved of such views or not.

Maybe the small minority of tolerant zinesters need to try to work together to bring that ideal back, if there are still enough of us.

I think your understanding (of the zine community as a network of people who want to preserve and create access to all fringe views ignored by the major media) is wrong. I just don't think that goal is one that particularly defines the whole zine community. And I think many of us would at least in some respects prefer to limit access to certain fringe views ignored by the major media.

 

I think there's some value in having archives of people saying things I disagree with. I think there's even probably some value in preserving people saying things I find morally reprehensible. But I'm just generally much more excited to create spaces focused on sharing other sorts of stuff.

I'm not sure if it's a matter of what's right or wrong, but how it appeared to ME, what the "zine scene" WAS, but isn't ANYMORE. To me, the inclusiveness of Gunderloy & Goldberg's Factsheet 5 typified the spirit giving everybody a voice. Yes, I know, that's passe, and has no relevance to younger zinesters. Of course since your views are the majority view in today's zine scene you're going to be perfectly happy with the status quo. But I don't think I'm the only one who finds that decidedly less than "exciting".

When I think of an archive I think of anything from a locked room containing old stuff at a university to, yes, a library. But a library is more focused, for instance some zine libraries only keep some things that they feel fit their focus while ZAPP kept two copies of everything.I liked that about ZAPP, it was overwhelming.

However, I don't think that part of being in the zine community is about supporting "ALL "fringe views" ignored by the major media, whether the individuals involved approved of such views or not." While I believe in someone's right to say whatever they want, I am not going to get behind something I don't believe and probably will leave them to do whatever it is that they do and if it's oppressive, possibly to actively resist it.(Though not through censorship.)

I agree with what your saying about the zine community being narrow-minded, but I also think that is not everyone involved in the medium but more or less the "popular kids" who are talking the loudest. The part of the culture that are trying and to a large degree succeeding in appropriating the zine to narrow topics and politics and marginalizing everyone who is not young, able and ready to live in a collective house.

However, when you talk about libraries you can't really complain about the focus of one. A lot of zine libraries have to have limits due to space or just according to what they want. For instance, I'm a radical so I volunteered at an anarchist infoshop/library for a while. It was in a very small space so they constantly had to pass on a whole lot of great stuff to the point that most of this fit the requirements to a t. I found this frustrating so I quit, but I'm not an anarchist. I still appreciate the resource and if I don't like it I guess I can start my own radical library. I see your point and I'm glad you think that "more tolerant zinesters need to try to work together" but I don't see how it applies to the way that someone wants to run their library or libraries. If someone wants to start such a project, I respect how they wish to do it.



James N. Dawson said:

I'm glad you were anti-censorship enough to archive the hate-zines, although I'm not quite clear about the difference between an "archive" and a "library". Was it that people could look and read, but not borrow?

It seems pretty obvious that there's a dominant far-left ideology among zinesters and they might consider libertarian-individualist zines "hate" literature, even if said zines disavow racism or any other kind of bigotry. Also, any zine that questions or critiques the dominant zine-culture ideology is likely to be rejected or ignored. I think this makes all the talk about "freedom of expression" a little hypocritical.

My understanding of "the zine community" was a network of zine-reviews/mutual promotion, libraries and archives that co-operated to preserve and create access to a wide range, indeed, ALL "fringe views" ignored by the major media, whether the individuals involved approved of such views or not.

Maybe the small minority of tolerant zinesters need to try to work together to bring that ideal back, if there are still enough of us.

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