Zines are (fairly) simple to make, but difficult to describe. They're manifestos, ruminations, screeds, artistic statements… they're pre-Facebook, pre-Instagram, pre-Twitter, post-magazine and very, very fascinating. "Zines" is short for "fanzines," printed information (and dis-information) vehicles that allow fans of a certain genre (science-fiction, horror, steampunk), singer, artist, movement, etc. to communicate with one another. They have a long history and there has been more than one “golden age” of zine-dom.. One could even argue that the firebrand political pamphlets of Thomas Paine were zines in their own right, but most zine scholars would place their heyday between the advent of cheap mimeograph technology in the 1920s and the punk, do-it-yourself (DIY) revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The zine collection at the University of Miami Special Collections contains over 5000 items, and seeks to give researchers and anyone interested in getting to know more about them an overview of the "who, what, when, where, why" of the zine world. Our holdings place an emphasis on South Florida publications. There are also many examples of national and international zines on a variety of topics, from “perzines” (personal zines, very much like journals or diaries) to LGBTQ issues, dumpster diving, fashion, photography, found art, collecting, food, music, science fiction, science, literature, poetry, and much more. Their variety, charm, and narrative power provide a clear insight into why in this age of digital everything, zines still endure and are in fact growing in popularity.
So we know what you’re thinking: Zines, one of the most democratic, immediate, and unpretentious forms of literature in the world, are not meant to be enshrined in cases, treated like museum objects, and kept away from potential readers by the bureaucratic barriers necessary for the smooth functioning of a Rare Book and Manuscripts library. They are meant to be read and enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible. We get it, and we agree with you! But bear with us a moment…Zines are, by their very nature, fragile, ephemeral, and prone to being discarded after reading. Many early zines are, therefore, quite rare and difficult to find. In some instances, the zines you are viewing online (and in our collections should you want to visit us) might be the only copy available in a library, anywhere.
We at the University of Miami Department of Special Collections believe that zines are worthy of respect and scholarly attention, and are committed to preserving them and making them available to as wide a public as possible. We keep them in a safe and secure environment, but also provide access to them to a wide public. If you are interested in viewing our collection of over 5000 zines from all over the world (including the new Lenny Kaye Collection of Science Fiction Fanzines), you are very welcome to visit the University of Miami Department of Special Collections, on the 8th floor of the Richter Library. We’re open Monday-Friday, 9-4. You can also visit us online at http://library.miami.edu/specialcollections/ or call us at 305/284-3247 for more information.
Long live zines!