The Fine Arts Division at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library (Dallas Public Library main branch) aims to promote cultural equity above all else, and therefore serves as a bridge between our patrons and the arts world. We provide the Dallas community with many free services, including music lessons and a dance studio, in addition to unique collections, such as our developing Zine collection. Zines are independently published works that could include text, photos, and illustrations, often reproduced using a photocopier. Topics can be broad in scope, from politics and feminism to poetry and personal journal entries. Once reserved for the underground, zines can now be found in many different libraries across the country. DPL’s Zine collection generally consists of Texas-based publications, but we also have several works from other states as well as a few international zines from Canada, Mexico, and Switzerland.
Before I joined the Fine Arts staff last year as Art Librarian, two former library employees developed a program at the library to support the Dallas Zine Festival in 2015, which included panel discussions and a zine exhibit. As a result, many of the participating artists at this event donated their zines to the library and thus began the start of our burgeoning zine collection. Additionally, Fine Arts Manager, Tiffany Bailey, donated several zines to the library after visiting the Denton Zine Festival in 2016. What I find impressive about our current collection is the diverse social and political perspectives (feminism, social injustice, LGBTQ, etc.) covered as well as the creative and experimental nature of each individual zine, whether the focus is on pop culture, visual arts, or music. For example, Women who rock!, created by local organization Girls Rock Dallas, focuses on women in music from early blues musicians, like Bessie Smith, to Riot Grrrl influences, like Kathleen Hannah, to current North Texas all-female bands. Zines like this prove not only to be a terrific form of self-expression and visual communication but they also give a voice to communities not always heard in mainstream publications. Though the bulk of our collection comes from North Texas, we also strive to acquire works from other states and countries to gain a better global perspective on important topics as well as connect our patrons to different DIY communities and experiences outside of Texas.
The Fine Arts Division is very much in the beginning stages of developing this exciting new collection. Currently, we are cataloging all materials we own and trying to figure out how to sustainably obtain new zines, in addition to building relationships with local zine artists and events. Other factors to take into consideration include developing a collection development policy, shelving options, and future programming ideas, including partnering with the Dallas Zine Festival again. Though there has been discussion about keeping our Zine collection non-circulating, the Zine committee ultimately believes that would defeat the purpose of a zine, which is meant to be freely distributed among the public, just like most items in our library. As the Zine collection evolves, the Fine Arts Division at the Dallas Public Library is thrilled for all possible future opportunities to promote and educate all people- kids, teens, and adults, at all artistic levels, with this unique collection.
Mariza Morin is the Art Librarian of the Fine Arts Division at the Dallas Public Library