Zines, unattended programs, and marketing

Zine Pavilion

The Zine Pavilion at ALA13

After seeing all the interest in zines at ALA, on tumblr, and the Internet in general, I decided it was time to do a zine program. I thought that teens would be interested in the topic; self publishing is hip and cool and a good way to get your work out into the world. I knew that zines existed when I was in high school, so I thought it would be something that some of the teens in my community might be interested in. It didn’t hurt that one of my close friends makes and sells zines and was willing to come in and talk to the attendees about her process and about attending zine festivals as a seller.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anyone to show up. I was hoping that someone would, of course, but by the time the program rolled around I had a feeling that no one would attend. And I was right.

I think I made a couple of mistakes in planning this program. I over estimated the interest in the topic and I didn’t advertise it. I posted a few things on our different social media sites (including tumblr and Facebook), but I’m not sure how many teens in my community pay attention to those. I need to start gathering a core group of kids to advertise to and push my programs harder. I have been sending lists of programs and digital displays to our local school media specialists, but there’s no (easy) way to know if these are actually being used or if they’re attracting kids. But I can’t stop trying and I won’t stop trying.

I think it is time to start talking with other teen programmers in my system to see how they have built their teen audience. I also have other connections scattered across the nation (thank you Internet!) that I should take advantage of. While it’s good to learn from experience, it’s just as good to learn from others’ experiences. And I should learn from them.

Ultimately, I decided to try the program again as a passive program. Since I had a lot of my zine instructions left over, I left them scattered around the area where teens gather. I’ve left them out for a couple weeks now and all but one of the instructions sheets have disappeared. I haven’t seen them in the trash, so hopefully someone’s using them! I even found one folded up so I hope that means someone was trying it out.

So, anyways, let’s move onto sharing resources! The only book in my system about zines is Whatcha Mean What’s a Zine? by Esther Watson, so that’s what I was going to use as an example during the program. For my display, I grabbed a bunch of books about writing, drawing, how to make comics, and anything else that looked like it could remotely relate. Finally, I created a mini zine that was actually a set of instructions on how to make a mini zine! I am attaching the PDF and I would love to see you use it in your library. I only ask that you share pictures 🙂

Mini Zine instructions


“Why are YOU in charge?”

(posted originally on Tumblr)

The way things work at my library is that there are a couple of library associates. Some of them are a little newer, some of them have been here for years and years. You just need a bachelor’s to do that. Then there’s the Librarian and the main difference is that they have an MLS and supervisory roles. Then there’s the Area Librarians who are basically Librarian+s, and then there are some higher level Librarians (who work either at Headquarters or are Branch Managers).

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