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KU Libraries Home to Massive New Zine Collection

The University of Kansas Libraries is now home to a huge collection of self-published, do it yourself, miniature magazines, or “zines.” Zines can be about virtually any topic – from politics. to art, to music, to entertainment, to history, to basically anything related to culture.

KU’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library and its Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements is now the home of a substantial collection of well over 1,000 zines. KU English Professor and zine expert Frank Farmer arranged for the library’s acquisition of the zine collection from Solidarity, a former Lawrence based political activist organization.

Zines are not meant to nor designed to last long term, making them ephemeral in their very nature.

“They’re not meant to last and I think that’s one of the reasons why they’re often classified as ephemera, because of their short duration or shelf life so to speak,” said Farmer.

“These are very ephemeral,” said University Archivist and curator for the zine collection Becky Schulte. “They’re just pieces of paper that are stapled together. They don’t have hard covers, they haven’t been produced, there haven’t thousands of copies produced, so they’re rare in that aspect of their creation.”

The zine concept of self made printed media has been around long before the rise of the internet, yet still holds importance in today’s ever increasingly digital world.

“There are so many students who are doing their own publication on the Internet with blogs an various comment threads and wikis, and this is an older form of that,” said Farmer.

“You’re not bound within a traditional publishing way of doing things with zines,” said Schulte. “So that’s one of the really great aspects of zines and it’s a part of what makes it a zine, that they’re created in this way.”

Although online and digital publication is very prevalent today, collections such as this one continue to demonstrate the importance of printed self-publication – as well as the fact that zines are still very much alive and kicking.