Interviews with Great Folks #10: Violet from ZAPP

November 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

Hi! Tell us who you are!

Hello! I’m Violet Fox, I’ve been a volunteer at Seattle’s Zine Archive & Publishing Project (ZAPP) since December 2008. I’ll graduate with my MLIS from the University of Washington in June 2013.

Tell us about ZAPP.

ZAPP was started in the mid-1990s from a personal collection of a couple hundred zines and has grown (entirely by donation) to somewhere over 20,000 zines now. It’s one of the largest zine collections in the world!We have an incredibly diverse range of topics, with zines and comics that cover politics, religion, music, DIY, pop culture, travel, sex, science, and much much more. We have a wide date range, too: from scifi fanzines that date back to the 1930s to the 1970s punk rock scene to 1990s Riot Grrrl manifestos to zines that were made last week.

We try to find a balance between acting as an archive (preserving zines for posterity), a library (providing access), and a publishing project (actively encouraging zine creation). We also have classes and workshops for teen and adult audiences, as well as zine-making supplies including a whole bank of typewriters (a flock of typewriters? a gaggle of typewriters? perhaps: a clatter of typewriters).

How has your volunteer experience been? What have you learned/enjoyed/experienced?

My focus has been cataloging ZAPP’s collection. The best thing about cataloging is getting to read so many amazing zines, there’s always something clever or funny or touching to be discovered. The worst thing is that we get in more donations than we’re able to catalog at any given point, so it’s a Sisyphean task!

The people I’ve met at ZAPP are some of the most creative and engaged people I’ve ever known. Not to mention the super fun folks from the Zine Librarians (Un)Conference(s) and the Zine Librarians Interest Group from ALA Annual in Anaheim last summer. It’s been inspiring to be around such dedication and enthusiasm.

Why are zines important to you?

From a historical/academic perspective, a zine is a stable, tangible artifact for research purposes. Societally, they allow truly unfettered access to underrepresented voices. Creatively, their physical manifestation inherently gives them more appeal than virtual content, whether they’re beautiful or raw or somewhere in between. Politically, zines tap into a radical, creative/destructive tradition. For me personally, it’s a visceral way to connect in a small way with the creator’s soul.

Tell us anything you feel moved to!

Although I’ve written a zine or two of my own, I don’t consider myself a zinester. As a zine librarian, I try to bring order to the chaos that is the zine world. That’s, of course, an impossibly huge undertaking. But more importantly, it’s somewhat at cross-purposes to the zine ethic. Pigeonholing zines into categories? Providing long-term access to a zine that was likely intended to be ephemeral? Tricky! There are plenty of issues that need to be addressed respectfully and thoughtfully.

Despite the challenges, I see myself as playing matchmaker to zines and their potential readers. Enabling discovery! So satisfying. That’s why I’ve been enthusiastic about the efforts to create a union catalog for zines, where we can share information about zines to provide better access. It’s terribly exciting!! I’m grateful to be a part of the zine librarian community.

Thanks, Violet!


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