Spotlight on: Zine Libraries of NYC

If you would like to integrate zines into your research, you’re in luck – New York City is home to multiple extensive zine libraries, and collections within larger institutions. Below is a short list of options – be sure to check individual websites for open hours and visiting procedures.

ABC No Rio – The long-running community space is home to 13,000 zines, as well as “independent, underground and marginal publications” with a focus on “political and social issues.” [Note: The zines are temporarily housed in the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, while ABC No Rio is under renovation.]

Barnard Zine Library – The collection includes over 4,000 circulating zines “created by women (cis- and transgender), with an emphasis on zines by women of color.” Items are searchable through the Columbia University library catalog, and outside users may request the zines through Inter-Library Loan. The library also maintains an updated list of zine libraries across the United States and in other countries. More information on access is available here.

Brooklyn College Zine Collection – The only CUNY college with a zine library, Brooklyn College’s collection was started in 2011 by GC librarian Alycia Sellie. The focus is on works “created within or about the borough of Brooklyn,” and by Brooklyn College alumni. The zines are currently on public display on the 1st Floor of the Library. Visitors not affiliated with CUNY are also welcomed, and can set up an appointment by calling the Reference Desk in advance of their visit.

The Graduate Center Library – The temporary exhibit “Zines as Creative Resistance” includes works from across the United States and Canada, and has been extended until Summer 2018. Also, if you are a student at the Graduate Center, feel free to join us for the Teaching Zine Meet-Up on Wednesday April 11th, from 10am-1pm. More information on the event, and how to RSVP, available here.

The New York Public Library and NYU also have zine collections; check their policy pages for access information.

If you don’t live in New York City, there are still many options for zine research. The Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP), based out of Milwaukee, seeks to provide access to the “historical canon of queer zines,” by making digital copies available (with the consent of creators). The site is a “free, on-line searchable database,” and users can easily search by subject, decade, or keyword.

Wherever you are, there is likely to be a zine library nearby. Try ArchiveGrid as a way to broaden your search for zines within existing collections, or by geographical radius. ​

About the Author

Elvis Bakaitis is currently the Head of Reference at the Mina Rees Library. They're also proud to serve on the University LGBTQ Council, and as a board member of CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies.