Notes on Zines, Records, and Nonconformist Media: Marketing through Alternative Collections #PLA12

The presenters were Matthew Moyer, popular media librarian, and Andrew Coulon, ILS librarian, with the Jacksonville (FL) Public Library, along with Cheyla Scantling, a library clerk with JPL University Park Branch.

(I had only learned what zines were the day before, so I was excited to learn more and I wasn’t disappointed.)

They were all a part of a zine committee that started the zine collection with the library.

Their collection is favored by 20-50 yr. olds; teens also like it also, but 30-40 yr. olds are mostly familiar with and interested in the collection.

The collection allows patrons to contribute and is an alternative approach to outreach.  They are also starting a local music collection to accompany their collections of postcards, local history, vinyl, micro-press, and altered books.

What are zines?

– homemade magazines/ diy version of magazines

– self-published pamphlets with small print runs and are voices unheard in corporate media

– raw, honest and passionate way of writing; can write about anything

Their collection is 1,200+ with 100 circulations/month.  It started with 200 donated zines.

The committee handles the technical services aspect of the zines by selecting and acquiring them, cataloging and processing them.  They also have their own list of subject headings.  By self-handling them, they have flexibility and can add them to the other collections in a timely manner.

They release about 20-50 new zines/month to keep the collection fresh and they create events around the release.  They advertise with social as well as print media (they gave out some of their flyers, one with John Waters advertising the collection) and include music and the monthly art walk in their city.  They’ve had a dj in front of the library to bring people in, they have library card applications and make it easy for people to check them out during the event.


They take the zine collection to various events:

– Harvest of Hope – rock and roll festival

– Art walk

– Elementary and college classes

– Bars

– Movie theaters

– Farmer’s market

They’ve held Zine Symposiums where they highlight the collection with readings and panels of zine publishers.  They have partnerships with a college class that goes to the library and studies the collection as part of their final project.  For classes, creative writing exercises that culminate in a zine.

Cheyla started a teen zine group and found that she had to explain to the teens why they were cool when there was Facebook, etc.

– a way to make sure people see finished project

– once finished, it gets put into the collection that is searchable in the library’s catalog

– can put it on a resume

What’s next?

– Digital zine collection

– Mobile zine website

Music Advisory

– Wanted to expose people to new music and put the personal aspect back into music advisory, so they have an online form where you plug in what you like and they will send you an email with recommendations from their collection

– Personalized playlist service, which is archived online (thought this was the coolest thing because I love coming across my old mix cds and remembering what songs I used to love back in the day)

– Links in the playlists that lead directly to the items in their library catalog

– Since August 2011, they have had a partnership with a local NPR affiliate to host a radio program in which they only play music that they have in the library’s collection.  They also broadcast music advisory services.  To advertise, they get artists to create station ids.

What’s next?

– Interview segments with local musicians: pick tracks from collection and say why they like it or how it influenced them

Local Music Collection: house music from local artists

– local engagement

– affordable investment

– new, exciting content

– promotes local artists’ album on playlists, displays and radio show

What’s next?

– mobile website to stream local music

(as a musician and a future outreach librarian, I really loved this.  These ideas are  forward-thinking concepts that will change the role of librarians.  Great additions to the idea of outreach.)

Best Practices

– community collaboration

– subject knowledge; librarian as curator, investigator, instigator

– Library as destination

– Alternative marketing; compete with major media outlets

– Deep collections; diversity, value, quality

– social networking

The keyword in their presentation:  Local

They really focus on their community and support it.  Their library became a cultural hub and they have the opportunity to reinvigorate the community.  They say to have fun and build the type of collection you would be surprised to find in your own library and community.

Answering attendee questions

– Find a champion to convince to give you autonomy of the collection.  For them, it took 9 months to a year.

– Find the material that is right for your community; zines might not be a right fit

– find the alternative culture within your community, might take some digging, but it’s there

Afterward, I asked Cheyla how this is possible where there doesn’t seem to be an embrace of alternative culture and how to do this as a lowly page (as I am).  She said to accentuate the fact that it’s cheap and they’re easy to make.  Also, be sneaky.  Create the idea and framework on my own and then present it to the right person.

This was a fantastic motivator and another stellar example of the future of libraries.  It also gave me confidence in my position as a page; I can still make a difference even though technically I’m only allowed to shelve and checkin books.


UPDATE: Just learned that Andrew and Matthew are both a part of Library Journal’s 2012 Movers and Shakers.  Of course they are!


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