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The Barnard Zine Library: The Controlled and the Wild

Freedman, Jenna

In designing how the Barnard Zine Library would function, I tried to do the impossible: please everyone—from the most controlled librarians to the wildest zine-makers. On the advice of legendary alternative press librarian James Danky, then of the Wisconsin Historical Society, I decided to try to acquire two copies of each zine that comes into the library. First copies are filed in the climate-controlled, acid-free archives, and second copies are shelved in the open stacks where they circulate, thus weighing the preservation-vs.-access seesaw equally at both ends. The zine library is comprised of purchased zines and donated collections, so there are aspects that make it a hybrid of library and archive, too. When describing zines, I assign Library of Congress subject headings for the sake of collocation and precision, and a student assistant writes a keyword-rich abstract for vernacular findability. Some of my choices are intentional, some accidental, and others reflect lessons I’ve learned—mostly from archivists, especially Barnard’s brilliant and empathetic directors, Shannon O’Neill and Martha Tenney—along the way.


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Zines in Libraries: Selecting, Purchasing, and Processing
ALA Editions

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Academic Units
Barnard Library and Academic Information Services
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January 10, 2022