Jasper and the Zine Scene

There are over 450 zines in the New Paltz Zine Library, from personal, queer, political, how-to and poetic genres. You can read them at the library or also check them out like books. Photo by Jeannette LaPointe.
A creative world of zines sits right on the main floor of the Sojourner Truth Library. Jasper Campos is part of the team behind the magic.

Jasper Campos has the coolest job you’ve never heard of.

It’s a lofty claim, sure, but Campos is sure it’s true. A third-year Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and sociology double major, Campos works at SUNY New Paltz’s Sojourner Truth Library (STL) as the New Paltz Zine Library intern, a position they took on in February 2016 on top of a full course load and a myriad of part-time gigs. The workload doesn’t bother this ambitious zinester, though. Zines are something Campos is incredibly passionate about, and their excitement is infectious.

“My responsibilities basically include helping the zine librarians build the collection, advertise the collection and put on events related to zines,” Campos says. “We encourage the campus community and the larger community as a whole to become involved in zine culture.”

What is a zine? The New Paltz Zine Library team favors a definition from the Barnard College Zine Library, which describes the medium as “self-publications motivated by a desire for self-expression, not for profit.”

By virtue of being made in small batches without editors to answer to, zines inherently defy the status quo. It’s a difficult medium to define, Campos admits, but that’s precisely what makes the zine community so colorful. Many of the zines featured in the New Paltz Zine Library collection shine the spotlight on disenfranchised or marginalized groups, such as women, people of color and LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Founded in 2014, New Paltz Zine Library is the brainchild of research librarian Madeline Veitch. Veitch wears many hats at STL, but she, Campos and fellow research librarian-slash-zine librarian Lydia Willoughby work closely together to collect, catalog and share zines with the SUNY New Paltz community. Sometimes, professors will work with the zine library faculty to assign zines as projects and have the final products featured in the zine library’s collection.

“A big part of what we do is try to bring zines into the classroom,” Campos says.

Campos and Veitch also work together to stage zine-making events. Late last year, after President Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election, the zine team mobilized to create zine-making stations in STL and at the campus farmer’s market. Their goal was to encourage members of the campus community to create single-page spreads documenting their reactions to Trump’s presidency, which Campos would then compile into a larger zine for the New Paltz Zine Library’s collection. The effort was “part historical documentation, part catharsis,” Campos says. The reaction zine is cataloged in the New Paltz Zine Library’s collection under the title “New Paltz Reacts: Presidential Election 2016.”

What does the future have in store for the New Paltz Zine Library? Campos has an impressive lineup of events planned for spring 2017, including a 24-hour Zine-Making Challenge from Friday, Feb. 17-Sunday, Feb. 19. The zine team at STL invites students and community members to come to the library from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17 to start crafting their own zines. Participants who get their completed zines in to Campos or Veitch from 3-5 p.m. on Feb. 18 will receive 20 free copies of their zines to swap and share. Teaming up with local zinester Kate Larson at Lagusta’s Luscious Commissary on Sunday, Feb. 19, the zine team will also host a zine reading and live music performance with bands Adult Mom and Birdwing starting at 7 p.m.

To learn more about the New Paltz Zine Library or any upcoming events, visit facebook.com/newpaltzzines or follow the zine library on Twitter and Instagram at    @npzines.