Barefoot in Iowa

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Photo by Marya Errin Jones

In July we attended the Zine Librarian’s (un) Conference in Iowa City, IA! It was our first gathering with other zine librarians and truly, the conference was an eye-opening experience. For two days we participated in break-out sessions, explored vintage print techiques, took a tour of the secret passages and back stacks of the University of Iowa Main Library, lots of informal gatherings that sparked conversations about why we’re all doing this in the first place. Many discoveries in a compressed amount of time.

Who knew that librarians with independent collections (i.e. volunteer-run) are called . . . BAREFOOT LIBRARIANS. Interesting! It didn’t seem to matter if we maintained scrappy libraries in basements, and garages, or well-dressed archives at Ivy League institutions. The joys, concerns, and frustrations of maintaining a zine library seemed pretty universal.

It was great to be reminded that, although the Albuquerque Zine Library is a burgeoning archive, as wee as they come, in the middle of the desert– an outpost– we’re part of a network of archivists all thriving to build zine libraries that inspire and activate our communities.

Albuquerque gets its first public zine library!

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Albuquerque has a long history of independent publishing– from news papers to small press. Zines in New Mexico seem to have fallen off the radar, relegated to the 1990s, and considered by some to be a, “dying art,” lying fallow in the wake of the flourishing eZine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Self-publishing in print form will never be abandoned. As long as there are writers, there will be zinesters producing handmade tales.

To prove the power of zines in New Mexico, Albuquerque gets a zine library to continue where the zinesters from the recent era left off. On March 22, the zine library opened its doors, with a tiny selection of zines to peruse, but this is only the beginning! The ultimate goal is to offer zines for check-out, like any other public lending library, and to provide space for zine making, zine release parties, zine exhibitions and more. The AZL will also work closely with ABQ Zine Fest to produce a yearly event celebrating zine culture and in the city and beyond.

HERE WE GO.