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New Zine Library in Vancouver

By Reece Steinberg


Hungry for zines? Live on the West Coast? Vancouver Public Library recently launched a collection of over 400zines that can be checked out like books.

The zines come from all genres: from travel to poetry; from personal to art. Focussing on British Columbian and other Canadian zines, the collection also includes some international titles and all titles are catalogued and searchable online by title, author (if available) and subject.

In addition to the circulating collection, the library is poised to launch an archival collection of regional zines, which will be kept in "Special Collections" for reference. These zines will be protected from the wear and tear of being carried around in backpacks or read in the park (or the bath). Many of the zines included in the reference collection have copies already available in the circulating collection.

This collection was developed by VPL's Zine Committee, which consists of librarians and other information staff who are enthusiastic about zines. In the process of gathering this collection the committee spoke to libraries far and wide who have their own zine collections, and to local zinesters, while also scouring the few shops in Vancouver that sell zines, perusing mail-order websites, and sending call-outs to Canadian zine writers.

One task that makes cataloguing zines so different from cataloguing books is the little things like finding the author's name and the origin of the text. The handmade additions to the cover, art inside or other unusual aspects that often make zines interesting and beautiful, also make them difficult to catalogue. While the committee gathered zines from across Canada (and from as close as within the library building), cataloguers looked through each zine to create records using whatever information was available. The result of the methodical cataloguing is that many records have notes stating that a particular zine has a button attached to the cover, or that the copies are "inscribed by author." Along with the often-unique subject headings, these descriptions form a detailed look at the collection, even without the physical zines.

This collection joins public library collections in cities such as Toronto, Portland, New York and San Francisco, in addition to many academic libraries and independent zine libraries.The VPL plans to hold a zine-related event celebrating the new zine collection in the near future, though no date was available at press time.

For more information about adding your zine to Vancouver Public Library's collection, or other info on the zine library, email zines@

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