The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. As one of the three research libraries of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections spanning over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global Black history, arts, and culture. This resource guide is intending to lay out zines found throughout our collections. For this purpose, we have thought expansively about the definition of zine and have made it more expansive to incorporate self-published, diy, community-motivated, politically-inflected works. While the Schomburg Center does not have a specific zine collection, zines can be found across different divisions in different collections at The Schomburg Center. This guide will outline our significant holdings.
Merriam-Webster defines a zine as a noncommercial often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter. Zines are often small-run/circulation items that are intended to be focused on a specific community, topic, or perspective. Zines are often made in a do-it-yourself fashion and utilize cheap methods of reproduction such as photocopying, hand assembling, and subject traditional publishing. The have often been associated with political movement, music, art, and activism but zines are an endlessly expansive medium for sharing content.
While zines fall outside of what is usually considered scholarly or academic, they are a tool that has been used to decades to share information. Zines are written by people with experiential expertise on their chosen subject. Zines often provide anecdotal, personal, and alternative perspectives that provides insight about the author, subject, or even zines themselves. Sometimes zines authors include bibliographies and related resources that researchers can use to track other materials, zines and beyond.