Changes afoot, again

I am writing to let you in on some news: I was recently offered a new position as Reference and Instruction Librarian at a Community College library in New Mexico, and I have decided to accept this offer. I am so excited to be moving closer to family and I am eager for the change of lifestyle after living in NYC for 13 years.

That said, I am also terribly sad to be leaving Brooklyn College, where I have LOVED working since 2011. I’ve learned so much from my predecessor, Alycia Sellie, and all my colleagues here have been amazingly supportive over the years as I finished library school, then became an adjunct librarian, then temporary librarian, and now I’m leaping into a permanent position out west. It is bittersweet for me to be leaving, for sure!

I feel hopefull that the Zine Collection will live on in the hands of the next Zine Librarian. This blog will live on, as well. I will pass it on to the next Zine Librarian as soon as possible. I definitely plan to get involved with zine librarianship in my new city!

Also, the Brooklyn College Library Zine Collection will still be tabling at the Brooklyn Zine Fest as planned, although we will most likely be there on Saturday, April 26, instead of Sunday.


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February Zine Spotlight: Where We’re From

When you ask a Brooklyn College student “Where are you from?” you had better be ready to listen up.

For this comp zine, three semesters of English 1012 classes, taught by Natalie Nuzzo, interpret the answer to this question according to their own experiences. The quotes below provide a glimpse of the varied, tenuous and beautifully contradictory answers that Brooklyn College Students have about what it means to be “from” somewhere.

You really have to read through all three volumes, look through the photographs, read the beautifully composed responses that, together, serve almost as a time capsule of Brooklyn as it is today. Our residents unflinchingly and eloquently claim this borough as their own, without feeling the need to cancel out other homes, past and future.


Volume 1: Spring 2012


“We were unlike our neighbors. The other families ate, slept, woke up, and dressed the same. Not us! We were the life of the neighborhood, the outsiders.”          –Shaima Mubarez

“I’ve been speaking the language and eating the food of Bangladeshi culture throughout my nine years in the U.S. I was not familiar with any other place in the world, apart from my birthplace, New York City.”    –Zinu Gofur

“As I walk briskly home in the evening dusk, the fresh scent of evergreen trees enters my nose, and the crisp, invigorating air enters my lungs. Unnatural blue shadows lay extended across the pristine white snow.” –Tzirel Norman

“I wonder if I will be remembered in this neighborhood that I call home. Will I be remembered as the ‘back of the park kid,’ the kid that was always playing ball, or will the memory of me vanish like the yesterday of a newborn.”                                                     –Barry Hinds


Volume 2: Fall 2012


“For weeks, I’ve wondered, is it always going to feel this lonely living in a house?”    –Leeza Torres

“It was like a flower show all year round and, for us, living in the Tropics only added to the luscious growth of these plants. My grandmother, Mama, was in the top four flower-crazed women of Sonia Close.” –Shakera Sherwood

“You don’t need an alarm clock to tell you when to wake up. You are already awake by the 4am call to prayer thanks to the mosque in the corner. You don’t need an alarm clock to spring to life at six o’clock in the morning. The honking of the “trotro” or dollar vans lets you know that it is six o’clock in the morning.”                                                                                                                                      –Samuel Tuffour

“Yes we were active kids, but at that moment in time we all sat with each other with our legs hanging out of the boardwalk railing, our toes in the sand, and silently watched the dark sky light up with explosions.”                                                                                            –Sara Furshman


Volume 3: Spring 2013


“Home to me is just my cup of tea. I can sip it but I will never get full. I can stir it and never lose its taste. I can leave it and always warm it up.”                                          –Tieisha Waithe

“Where I’m from, they say there are only three seasons: a season for rain, a season for tulips, and a season for road construction.” –Bridget Landreth

“I remember the day I was moving back to New York, my grandmother squeezed me tightly and said ‘Ishtaktillek ya Soosoo. Mish mushkalah, hayek rah itrawih. Inshallah ibtoosil bilsalamah.’ This means, ‘I miss you already Soosoo (that’s the nickname she used to call me). Don’t worry, you’re going home. God willing, you’ll get home in peace.'”                                                      –Sohayeb Jabir

“If you lived on East 96th you knew two things. The first was the only pink house on the entire block. The second was the woman who lived in that house, my grandmother. If every block has a legend on it she was it for 96th street.”                                              -Anthony Foster

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Come see us at the Brooklyn Zine Fest!

It’s official, the Brooklyn College Library Zine Collection will have a table at this year’s Brooklyn Zine Fest at the Brooklyn Historical Society! The Fest runs for two days, from Saturday, April 26 to Sunday, April 27- but I’ll be there on Sunday April 27 ONLY. I’ll bring zines and other swag to trade. Come by and visit!

BZF 2014 Announcement

Here’s the announcement page for the Brooklyn Zine Fest, and you can check back here for more information about me and the other exhibitors (to be posted soon).




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Save the Date!

I’m happy to pass along this announcement on behalf of my colleagues over at the NYC Feminist Zinefest:


“Greetings, zinesters who tabled at the 2012 zinefest!

We are happy to announce that the NYC Feminist Zinefest…is back!
Mark your calendars:
DATE: Saturday, March 1st
TIME: 1:00pm to 6:00pm
WHERE: Barnard College (3009 Broadway, NY)

Applications to table will be available soon, since the Zinefest is a mere 6 weeks away!

Keep your eyes on the site for more info & location details:

And please, feel free to help * spread the word * !


Thank you for being awesome zinesters!

Much cheer,

2014 Zine Team

(Elvis, Rachel, Jordan, Jenna, Sari, Erica, Anne)”


Check out their FB page!

Here are some pictures from last year’s fest:

2012_fzf_1 2012_fzf_photo_2

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Unique session on Zines, Rare Books, and Conservation!

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On November 23, 2012, Prof. Aurora De Armendi brought a class of students from Parsons School of Design to visit the Brooklyn College Library. In keeping with the theme of the class, which was Artists’ Books: Narratives, she wanted to show the students a wide range of materials to inspire their own projects. As were discussing the class, we agreed that her students might also benefit from seeing some selections from the rare books collection in the Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections, in addition to visiting the Zine Collection. I discussed the possibilities with Marianne LaBatto, Acting College Archivist, and Slava Polishchuck, Conservator, and we ended up doing a very interesting mash-up session, showing bound materials that ran the gamut from high-brow to low brow, from one-of-a-kind diaries to copies of copies.

I started the session with an introduction to the Zine Collection, showing a variety of different types of printing and bindings possible. I showed zines that were photocopied, silkscreened, printed with a risograph duplicator, hand painted, and bound in a variety of ways from stapling and sewing to ingenious folds and flaps. I pointed out the so-called “standard” formats of zines- all based on 8″x 10″ printer paper folded various times- and I showed notable exceptions in the form of both oversized and tiny zines. We discussed the idea that that zines are different from art books in that they are often printed inexpensively in editions and often serialized (issue 1, 2, etc.), and they are different from blogs in that their value lies in providing someone an intimate, small-scale way to share their passions within or between communities, often distributing them by hand or via snail mail. Trading, copying, reworking, and sharing are all aspects of zines which, perhaps, these art students will now incorporate into their own book-making practices.

Then we moved on to an introduction to the Brooklyn College Archives from Marianne LaBatto. She showed students a selection of rare books ranging from the 15th to the 20th century: 16th century bound books, in Spanish with vellum covers, a page from a late medieval incunabulum, a copy of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Sonnets and Lyrical Poems (Special Collections PR5242 .E42x 1894), printed by William Morris at the famous Kelmscott Press (this one struck a chord with these printmaking students for sure), a richly illustrated anatomy book, and even a tiny diary handwritten by adventurer/mountaineer Annie Smith Peck. It generated a fascinating discussion to reflect on the similarities and differences between the zines and these materials- similar attention paid to printing, binding, writing out thoughts by hand, etc. Zines are part of the long trajectory of the “book” in a way that an online blog just can’t be.

After spending some time gingerly examining these books, it was time to meet with Slava Polishchuck, the in-house conservator for the Brooklyn College Archives Conservation Lab (the only one of its kind within CUNY, btw). He showed students around the lab and showed them the housings he makes for rare books (see pictures above)- they look like little boxes but each one is measured and bound specifically for the book it’s intended for. This was interesting in contrast with some of the zines with sleeves and tied bindings I had shown them earlier.

All in all, this was a very successful session and I was so happy to meet all the students and give them a window into the Brooklyn College Library Zine Collection as well as the Archives and Special Collections. The session went by fast, but we tried to give them ample time to browse the collections. I hope they got some ideas for their own artistic practice, and I told them if they make anything resembling a zine, to let me know and we’ll add it to the collection here.

Thanks again to Marianne and Slava, and to Aurora for bringing this great group of students (and for photographing the session- the photos above are all her handiwork). I’m always on the lookout for ways to discuss zines within a wide range of contexts, whether it’s ethnicity and gender studies or art and literature, so please feel free to contact me with questions, comments or suggestions.


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Busy times!

It has been a busy time around Brooklyn College Library, and I am happy to say that I’ve spent much of this time preparing for and teaching zine sessions for amazing groups of students in the following classes: Prof. Rachel Jennings’ Literature, Ethnicity, and Immigration class; Prof. Jocelyn Wills’ American Dreams and Realities class; and Profs. Anne Leonard, Ian Beilin and Natalia Sucre from City Tech invited their students from the class Library 1201: Research and Documentation for the Information Age to meet with me and visit the collection. I have two more zine sessions scheduled and the semester is far from over! The great thing about most of the classes so far is that the professors have given students the option to make a zine for their final project in the class, with the understanding that it will become part of the zine collection. I love the way this makes the collection self-perpetuating! Students learn about zines, students make zines, students add zines to the collection so that new students can learn about zines.

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Torch Passing

Thanks to Alycia for that wonderful introduction, and Hello Everyone! I am thrilled to be the new Zine Librarian here at Brooklyn College Library. Alycia is a formidable force in the world of zines, and she will be a tough act to follow, that’s for sure. But I will do my very best. I feel well-prepared to pick up where Alycia has left off, having been there at the beginning as a Zine Intern two years ago, and receiving such valuable training from Prof. Sellie herself. I feel devoted to this Zine Collection, watching it grow from a couple boxes and a dream into the sensational collection it is now. I will do my best to keep the momentum going!

I wanted to also ask for your help, zine/library folks: Please pass along any ideas for new local or obscure places I can find zines, new columns you’d like to see on this blog, or zines you’ve made or read that you think should be part of the collection (don’t forget, it’s Zines made in or about Brooklyn, Zines about Zines, and others on a case-by-case basis).

I am also in the process of collecting ideas (whether tried and true or completely dreamed up) about how to promote the zine collections within the library, elsewhere on campus, and within the community at large. If you have any thoughts, pass them along! Now that the collection has grown to a nice size, I want to find new ways to demonstrate the value of the viewpoints contained within those xeroxed pages to people who might not know what zines are all about. I hope you will not hesitate to contact me if (BC faculty/student groups or other libraries) you want me to visit a class, or (all interested zinesters/researchers/humans) if you would like to visit the library and look through some zines.

Fellow interns Devon, Erica and Sarah, I particularly welcome your ideas. It would be great to find new ways to collaborate if you are willing!

Robin Potter

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Prof. Robin Potter is our new Zine Librarian!

I’m pleased to share the news that Robin Potter, formerly known to this very blog as a Brooklyn College Library Zine Intern, has been named the new Brooklyn College Zine Librarian.
20130717_150603Robin was instrumental to the collection from its infancy, when she volunteered as a zine intern in the summer of 2011. Her astute organizational skills and general craftiness were also essential in curating our exhibition and organizing the collection’s grand opening last summer. Robin’s background in photography and her skills in reference and instruction have made her a librarian who is great not only at discovering new materials for the collection, but she also is able to explain and contextualize the importance of alternative materials in libraries, and zines as works of art.

It has been my pleasure to get to know Robin through working on this collection, and it is really a fabulous thrill that she has been able to transition into this new role. The collection couldn’t be in better hands, and I’m looking forward to what is to come under Robin’s care.

Robin is also excited to continue to work with Brooklyn College professors, students and classes that would like to work with the zine collection–she welcomes new collaborations and project ideas. So say hello if you see Robin at the library, or at the next zine fest or event, and get in touch if you have any questions she can help with!

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Zine Collection Evolution in Progress…

Changes are afoot here in Brooklyn: tomorrow will be my last day in the Brooklyn College Library. I’m moving on, but staying close. I’ll be the new Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian at the Mina Rees Library at the CUNY Graduate Center starting in July.

What does this mean for the zine collection? I’m hoping that it means that there will soon be a new steward who can maintain the current collection that I’ve built and also experiment with new ways that it could be used by Brooklyn College and the wider zine community. The large backlog (a little over 1600 titles) that I’ve amassed will continue to be fully cataloged and will be available in the library (but all that cataloging will still take some time!).

I’m extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to create this collection for CUNY, and further, that this project has been integrated enough into our library that I feel confident that it can thrive under the care of the next librarian to come.

Contact information for the collection and correspondence may take some time to sort out–so please be patient, but also feel free to contact me personally with any questions or inquiries.

Thank you to everyone who has made this collection possible. It has meant a lot to me, and I think I am only able to leave it by looking forward to sharing the wonderful experiences I’ve had with the next zine librarian to champion the collection.

–Alycia Sellie

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What has this collection meant to you?

It has been almost two years since we started this blog, and many milestones have passed in creating the zine collection at Brooklyn College.

Now that the collection has been on the shelves for a bit of time, we’re wondering: what does the Brooklyn College Library Zine Collection mean to you? Can you tell us how you have used the collection, or what it’s been like to have your work included in it? What you like about it, and what you hope it can be or do in the future?

Leave a comment, let us know!

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