Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Blue Haired Librarians Unite!

Which means something completely different these days, at least according to the New York Times' article, Zines in the Library Catalogue? Of Course. Well, as blue-haired zinesters are wont to say, duh. Just as playbills and ballads of the Renaissance tell us about the material, aesthetic and political culture of a broad sector of non-aristo society, so zines are an insight into those who don't get to write for the NYT. They are records of the ephemeral - meetings, feelings, connections, encounters, protests - sometimes with a "this zine(ster) will self-destruct in 30 seconds" feel. And they're growing. There was a customer at the bookstore today whose 6 year old daughter wants to start zining -- how cool is that?! I remember writing and illustrating stories with a friend in tiny Victoria Plum notebooks that were given out in party bags. And using those weird carbon copy sheets to get high - er, to make copies of poems to give out to classmates.
The Toronto Public Library has had a zine library for a couple few years now, beating out Barnard both in the age of its collection and the fact that it's open to the public. The two cool librarians who run it are regularly found at small press and zine fairs, picking up goodies and befriending people.
This is how librarians should be, doncha think? We get a bad press - grumpy, shh-monsters. Even uber-librarian of cool Rupert Giles (many agree) is more scared of students touching his books than he is of giant blubberous demons. (Check out the collector's item American Library Association's "Ohmigod there's a librarian on TV & he's HOT!" poster. Also, the very sweet "Kids read those graphic novels, right?" poster of Dream sulking with a book). But then his (er, that could be Dream as well, but I mean Giles, although there are similarities) library is regularly subject to the ravages of evil.
Mine is currently being ravaged by something worse than vamps: moving! I am even selling books (piles & piles of them, many bought second-hand, several unread). In one of the first batch I sold, the diligent clerk found a postcard from someone I didn't even remember, providing me with a puzzle for half a day.
But more than who, I wanted to know which book it had been in. Diligent dude couldn't remember. Argh.
So, in summary: zines, libraries, memories, mysteries. Ann Cvetkovich calls zines "archives of feeling," part of a class of objects (live performances, meeting minutes, oral testimony, video art) that capture what's left out of the official archives. As Yvonne Rainer's new book (which seems to put difficult childhoods and club sandwiches on the same level) is called, Feelings are Facts. I don't know if she ever made a zine in reality, but in Delirium's Library, there's a whole box full of them.

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