On Oct. 27, the New Paltz Zine Library held their “Zine-o-thon,” a yearly tradition where students can gather and express their creativity in the form of their own personalized booklet.
The event took place in Sojourner Truth Library from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It was the first major on-campus zine-making event that the club held this semester, something that they have been doing on and off since 2017. The club was established in 2014.
A “zine” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a noncommercial often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter.” Zines were popularized in fan culture, and are mostly used in a non-professional way to connect those who have similar interests.
There are no limits to what constitutes a zine and what an individual can focus on in one. Madeline Veitch, New Paltz’s zine librarian, shared that any attendee would have the option to participate in a zine swap, where they could either receive zines from 10 different authors, or receive 10 copies of their own zines and distribute them as they please.
“The purpose of the event is to invite campus and broader community members to share their ideas, their activism, their art, and to see themselves as authors and circulators of knowledge,” said Veitch. “I say that, but there’s also an invitation just to be creative, to express, and maybe not to share what comes out if it feels too personal for a broader audience.”
Along with having a section dedicated to displayed zines, there also is a creative space in the Sojourner Truth Library with the tools needed to create them. Throughout the pandemic, the zines in the school’s collection were still available to look at through a curbside pickup service.
The zine library invited New Paltz residents to contribute to “Beyond the Sunflower Fields,” a zine that highlighted how the town processed 2020. Zine library intern Shania Molina believes that zines are helpful in forming bonds.
“For New Paltz as a whole, it allows the community to come together and share each other’s unique experiences and opinions and continue to weave a more tight knit community that wishes to learn, love and share,” Molina said.
The organization’s Instagram, @npzines, have been running a short series called “Zines of the Week,” which focuses on bringing certain topics such as Latinx Heritage Month and Deaf Awareness Month to light.
Sophie Gonzalez, another zine library intern, shared some additional topics that she is interested in portraying in her zines.
“I also like zines on gender and sexuality, mental health and self help,” she said. “Zines made up of poetry, writings and art are also some favorites of mine.”
Molina outlined the setup of the event, starting off with a presentation about what a zine is and how to make one.
“The presentation will cover a short crash course on zine history, why zines are important and the different ways you can make your zine along with examples,” she said.
Participants were then welcomed to start creating their zines, and had three days after the event to turn their zines in to be photocopied and distributed. The organization also gave creators the option to have their zines displayed in Sojourner Truth Library.
Zines have had a prominent impact on the culture of New Paltz; classes, clubs, poets and artists in the community have all used zines to explain their missions, goals, lessons and thoughts.
“Zine-making is a therapeutic process that has positive effects on both the author and the audience,” Gonzalez said. “On a community level, those who interact with zines are able to engage with material that is real and raw in a way that traditionally published literature is not.”
Gonzalez also specified that the goal of zine-making is not to make money, which is also what makes it different from traditional literature.
“Having affordable and accessible reading/artistic material that can have such a large range of content is so beneficial for communities in coming together, educating one another, and sharing experiences to build camaraderie,” she said.
When asked what kind of advice they would give to first-time zine makers, both Gonzalez and Molina said to focus on the process of making it the most.
“Dive deep into the areas of your life that make you laugh, cry, angry or even just the mundane aspects of it, there is always a story to share,” Molina said. “Whether it is just for you or a community you wish to reach out to, you will find that making a zine is freedom within the pages. When making your zine take it slow, don’t judge yourself, be kind and enjoy every moment!”