I recently attended the annual Zine Librarians (un)Conference in Boston this past weekend, which was held on July 29-30 at Simmons College. In addition to the relief of getting out of Bloomington for the weekend, I loved attending this (un)conference. Though I also enjoyed attending ARLIS/NA + VRA’s joint conference back in March, there was something more exciting and intimate about this gathering. For one, I didn’t know anyone else attending this (un)conference since zines are such a niche (and marginalized) subject matter in librarianship (and especially in academic librarianship). This was also my first time attending an “(un)conference,” so I was nervous about what I could contribute to the impromptu scheduling and more discussion-based sessions. In the end I think I prefer the informality of the (un)conference over more conventional lecture-style sessions, which tend to feel too authoritarian.
This is a relevant consideration for me as a student because of the power dynamics that are already established by my status in the field (i.e. not a professional). It takes a concerted effort on my part to convince myself that I am worthy of mingling with seasoned veterans, that my opinion counts for something (forthcoming post on more detailed issues related to the mistreatment of grad students). At ZLuC, however, librarians from all backgrounds (academic, “barefoot,” etc.) and fellow students all felt like colleagues to me. And though there were obviously some more experienced attendees, they made it clear that novel ideas and feedback were extremely important for progress. There was a mutual respect that was naturally established from the very start; fellow attendees pointed out that etiquette rules and the like were not even necessary.
We created a packed schedule but some of the ones I attended include: “Building Collections,” “Barefoot Libraries,” “Zine Union Catalog,” “Metadata Ethics,” “Disaster Planning,” “Zine Events Planning,” and “Feelz.” The schedule also included a tour of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (to check out the artists’ books and zines collection) and the Papercut Zine Library. Detailed notes of the sessions are available through the (un)conference’s schedule (link above) so I’ll spare the details. I’ll just echo what I said in our wrap-up session on the last day: I managed to meet some really incredible and dedicated folks in the field, and I feel like I have a strong and diverse support system. Moving forward I hope to share what I’ve learned with the current library coordinators at the GLBT Library, where I founded the zine collection, to update the policy I originally penned when I was much less experienced. I also hope to work on the untouched zine collection at the Fine Arts Library in the coming year. I’ve also been invited to visit the Queer Zine Archive Project’s (QZAP) physical space by Milo (one of its founders) so maybe I’ll have some winter break travel plans after all!