Hiiiii zinester-researchers! I'm Claudia, a zine librarian and archivist at the Barnard Zine Library. I just graduated with my MLIS from Queens College with an archives focus, and I've been here at the BZL for 2.5ish years.

Some of my favorite work I do with the BZL and Barnard Archives involves processing our Zinester Ephemera collections. These collections consist of some of the non-zine materials produced by zine creators -- think personalized envelopes and correspondence covered in Sanrio stickers, well-loved composition journals full of notes and drafts, thank you notes, original poster artwork, screenprint stencils and their corresponding shirts, etc. etc. Here are their finding aids if you're curious. 

Our newest zinester ephemera collection is that of Nia King’s. King is a queer, mixed race Black, Hungarian and Lebanese multimedia journalist, zinester, book author, cartoonist, podcast producer and public speaker. She just celebrated the 10th anniversary of We Want the Airwaves (an apt Ramones song title pun): her interview series with other queer and trans artists of color on how to make it as an artist without compromising your values. She’s been talking, writing, editing and drawing about mixed race identity, queer relationships, political organizing, and activism for decades, and some of the ephemera she’s saved from her years nurturing real community now lives in the Barnard Archives!!

Nia King original zine flats, plastic clips, post-it note

It’s been a joy working on her collection, following the decades-long throughline of her work building queer and mixed race community from her early anarcho-punk days at a PWI, to speaking on conference panels and publishing three volumes (so far) of transcribed interviews. I’ll list some highlights and thoughts here:

  • Original zine flats for The first 7-inch was better, Borderlands, Angry black-white girl and several others from as early as 2006, many of them laminated –  fellow zine makers will know the struggle of when crucial little paper bits fall off your flat…
  • Name tags from academic conferences and zine fairs like the Allied Media Conference, the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest and a dozen others. Complete with lanyards!
  • Shirts! And a Brown Recluse tote bag! We’ve got more than a few Brown Recluse zines in our circulating collection too.
photo of a Brown Recluse Zine Distro tote, an event flyer, and a bag of conference badges

“Respect du fonds'' is the archival principle wherein you maintain records “according to their origin and in the units in which they were originally accumulated;” the idea is that you want to safeguard the records’ integrity as a whole by preserving the creators’ own process intention behind these pre-established categories. That’s how I understand it, at least! It’s not always feasible to stick to, but Nia had graciously done most of this work for me with labeled zip-loc bags and recycled envelopes of items with lots of post-its and sharpied asides. Like “things I tabled at,” “things I spoke at,” or my favorites, “old ass zines” and “more old ass zines.” One attached to MXD zine!: True stories by mixed race writers read “page 5 seems wacky, good luck!”, which was a sweet heads up to come across as I was rifling through her flats. 

photo of a mailing envelope with a zine sticking out and text on the envelope "More old ass zine flats"
photo of an original pasted up zine

Anyways, thank you so much Nia for entrusting me and the BZL to care for your collection <3. You can make an appointment to view this collection by emailing our archives staff at archives@barnard.edu. See you in the reading room. ~*