Digitizing Zines: Tensions Between Digital Desires & Print Culture Ideals

Daniela Capistrano (People of Color Zine Project), Jenna Freedman (Barnard Zine Library), and Melissa Rogers (Women’s Studies Multimedia Studio, University of Maryland) are interested in opening up a conversation about issues of ethics and materiality when it comes to digitizing and digitally archiving zines: do-it-yourself, independent publications, usually circulated on a small scale. What is gained and what is lost when they are changed from print to pixels? We explore questions of fair use regarding materials that are sometimes orphan works, and other ethical concerns of zine archivists, librarians, scholars and creators.

As zines gain institutional histories by finding homes in both community and university libraries and archives, as well as in digital formats online, it is important to ask what is at stake in digitizing them. What are the goals of digitizing, and what are ethical ways to go about archiving and circulating the ephemeral (and often anti-copyright) medium of zines? How might digitizing initiatives best involve the members of the communities to which zines matter, and what practices can help ensure that digital archiving serves their needs? What kinds of collaborative, activist, and artistic projects could come out of efforts to digitize zines and preserve the worlds from which they emerge?

A little background reading:

People of Color Zine Project, Queer Zine Archive Project

Licona, Adela. “(B)orderlands’ Rhetorics and Representations: The Transformative Potential of Feminist Third-Space Scholarship and Zines.” NWSA Journal. Vol. 17, No. 2 (2005), pp. 104-129. www.jstor.org/stable/4317128 (accessed March 15, 2013). [Part of her new book Zines in Third Space!]

Piepmeier, Alison. “Why Zines Matter: Materiality and the. Creation of Embodied Community.” American Periodicals. Vol. 18, No. 2 (2008), pp. 213-238. www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/41219799 (accessed March 15, 2013).

Wooten, Kelly. “Why We’re Not Digitizing Zines | Digital Collections Blog.” News, Events & Exhibits – Duke University Libraries Blogs. blogs.library.duke.edu/digital-collections/2009/09/21/why-were-not-digitizing-zines (accessed March 15, 2013).


Categories: Archives, Collaboration, Copyright, Libraries, Session Proposals, session-talk | Tags: , , , , , |

About Melissa Rogers

I am a graduate student in Women's Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park with undergraduate degrees in English and Spanish. I research queer subcultural production, including autobiographical and independently-produced zines and comics. I am particularly interested in moments when feminist, antiracist, and queer activist impulses converge with DIY tactics and technologies to create social change. I enjoy science fiction, skateboarding, and knitting.