New collection at Lee Road Library highlights zines
On the second floor of the Lee Road Library, patrons can find a newly curated collection: zines.
The word zine is an abbreviation of “magazine” and “fanzine.” The item itself is usually a handmade, self-published booklet or similar publication. Zines are often small, and vary in content: hand-drawn comics, essays and poetry, or photography.
Kate Atherton, adult services associate, curated the library’s collection, which currently consists of 70 publications. “This past year I was lucky enough to have this first batch of zines donated to me by a patron who runs a zine review blog,” said Atherton. “He had a surplus of zines he had been given to review that he no longer needed, so he thought to share them with us and our community.”
“I felt this donation was a golden opportunity,” continued Atherton. “The Cleveland Heights-University Heights library system has had zines in the past, previously cared for by my colleague John Piche, and I wanted to bring them back. I became interested in zines and the zine community last year when the Museum of Contemporary Art hosted a zine fair, and I thought perhaps that might ignite the interests of others in our community, too.”
Zines rose in popularity in the 1970s and were embraced in the '80s and '90s by the punk and alternative culture scenes, which promoted a do-it-yourself aesthetic. Originally, zines were a take on the pamphlets that religious and political groups hand out, but aimed at promoting the art and writing of anyone or any cause. One example is a small black and white comic book made of plain copier paper, titled “Whoa!” It is a feminist manifesto, telling a funny, powerful story about street harassment in a mere six pages.
“Nowadays, because it is so easy to print your own materials at home, zines are everywhere and many artists and illustrators I know make and sell them,” said Atherton.
According to Barnard College’s zine library website, there are only three other library zine collections in the state of Ohio: Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, and Bowling Green State University’s library.
Atherton hopes to keep the Heights Libraries’ collection growing. “I am looking to get more zines either from zine distributors around the country or artists I know personally who either attended Rhode Island School of Design with me or are part of the zine community,” she said. “I look on sites, such as Etsy and the websites of comic book artists, to see who is creating zines and who I might approach to donate to our collection.”
Zines are available for check-out from the Lee Road Library at 2345 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.
Sheryl Banks is the marketing and community relations manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.