About the Collection

When did Barnard start the Zine Collection?
The idea for the collection was pitched and accepted in the summer of 2003. It was awarded an initial materials budget of $500. It took about a year of planning to get the zines onto the shelves. Check out the press release.



Who Reads these Zines and Why?
This collection aims to serve the needs of current readers and scholars and those of future researchers, Barnard and Columbia students and faculty, scholars from other academic institutions, and writers doing research for a major publishing house have used zines to research topics such as the Riot Grrrl movement, Sassy magazine, girls and education, radical parenting and other topics. Library science graduate students from around the city have visited and worked with us to learn more about collecting, cataloging and preserving alternative publications. We believe the collection will be an invaluable resource for future scholars. Zines are primary source documents that tell the story of contemporary life, culture, and politics in a multitude of women’s voices that might otherwise be lost. We also hope that current readers will enjoy the collection simply for its vibrancy, humanity, and artistic value. For more information on local zine sources, check out our zine links; there are lots of great organizations in the zine community.


How Many Zines are there in the Barnard Collection?
In August 2018 there are about 5,000 zines in the open stacks, where they can be pored over, photocopied, and we hope not spilled upon by readers. We had thousands more in the archives. We currently own perhaps 11,000 individual issues of zines, but many of them are awaiting processing and so are not yet fully represented in the catalog. We collect zines in several categories.


How Many Zines are by Barnard Students and/or Alumnae?
A few, but not enough. If you want to add your zine to the collection, please contact the zine librarian. All zines by Barnard and Columbia women will be accepted. We'll even pay for them! There is one Barnard compilation zine in the collection, made at a workshop held at the library in Spring, 2006. We also have zines created by BC/CU organizations like the Barnard Zine Club, ClubQ and SEEJ.


What Other Colleges have Zine Collections and How Does Barnard's Collection Compare?
Check out our lists of academic, public, and other types of library zine collections. There aren't very many zine libraries to begin with, and few of them fully catalog their zines in the worldwide union catalog known as WorldCat. The zines existence in WorldCat makes it easy for people around the world to know that we have zines in our collection and facilitates their ordering them via Interlibrary Loan. Another advantage to having the zines included in CLIO, our online catalog, is that researchers who may never have heard of zines can discover them serendipitously.

To our knowledge there are three other libraries that have collections specializing in women's zines: Duke University, Smith College, and Tulane University. We believe those collections are all closed stacks, meaning you have to ask for the zines you want and use them under supervision. Along with Colorado College and Pratt Institute, Barnard is one of the few academic collections that has zines available in the open stacks.