This blog comes from Claire, a librarian based at Studio 12 in Leeds Central library.
I’m here to tell you about a new obsession. Zines!
Zines are the ultimate expression of the do-it-yourself ethic. It can look handmade. A zine is a functional vehicle for self-expression. It is generally a short run periodical produced for passion rather than an intention to make money. Zines are an immediate and disposable popular literary form and are typically less formal. A zine can take on topics that the mainstream usually ignores.
I was first introduced to zines through a workshop with Wur Bradford for International Women’s Day last year. The workshop took place over 3 weeks and by the end of the workshop we had learnt about letterpress, photocopying techniques and distribution. But what struck me the most was the pure range of subject, techniques and people the activity brought together. Here were maybe 8 women from diverse backgrounds who hadn’t met before talking openly about what it was to be a woman, looking at their cultures, experiences and backgrounds. The craft created an inclusive and relaxed atmosphere for learning and listening.
My colleague Sapphia suggested we take zines to libraries. We facilitated our first zine workshop at Moor Allerton Library, again for International Women’s Day. We haven’t looked back since partnering with Leeds Arts and Minds to produce zines with varying groups across Leeds for their This Is Me Exhibition hosted in Room700 Leeds Central Library.
We have since secured funding and will be putting on our on Exhibition in March next year. The exhibition will feature zines on a variety of topics including Local History, Poetry, Art, Culture and Books(obviously)
We recently created a zine with fellow Librarians looking at their favourite books. We were looking for book reviews, quotes and images to depict their passion for books and the librarians delivered!
Our first zine page was created by Senior Communities Librarian Greg Stringer and looks at the book Brighton Rock. Greg said “It’s one of my favourite books (and films) – the central piece of pink and white paper jumped out at me right at the beginning, suggesting a stick of rock and I tried to find images to build around that that reflected either the era the book was set in (the cars, fashion) and the building suspense and terror developed in the plot or related to particular characters (Pinkie/violin music). There had to be some degree of inventiveness throughout if ideas for images weren’t readily available.”
The Secret Garden was a bit of a favourite amongst our librarians.
Assistant Communities Librarian Chloe Derrick said “To maximise time I spent creating the Zine I gathered materials to work with directly. I avoided technology (photocopying, printing, etc.), started with the background and ended with the text. I only used part of a quote from the book so the meaning of the words could be ambiguous. When making the Zine I thought about how much I love the creativity within my role and considered events such Family Art Sessions at Headingley, as Zines really appeal to both adults and children.”
This zine page was inspired by The Great Gatsby and created by Assistant Communities Librarian Mark Kirby. “The first thing that sprung to mind from the book was the valley of ashes, where a huge billboard looms over everything. That’s why I chose the block text from the adverts on a murky wallpaper background. To show NYC and the Roaring Twenties, I attempted a Manhattan skyscraper out of filmstrips, and some music manuscript for the Jazz Age. Plus some added party glamour via the dancing girls, courtesy of the Metro newspaper.”
Assistant Communities Librarian Angie Palmer created this beautiful page in honour of The Book Thief.
You can view a full copy of the zine
Zines can help us to celebrate our love of reading, research and culture by giving us a method to share our passions in groups, by distribution and by doing!