Recently, a few Temple librarians who support scholars engaged in creative, artistic production – film, performing arts, creative writing, visual arts, etc. – have begun collaborating to determine the intersections between digital scholarship and digital arts production.
Calling ourselves the Dig!Arts Group, we have been working toward identifying a project that appeals to our subject interest areas but also meets a dynamic production and scholarly interest emerging both in and outside of academic disciplines.
Our early conversations circled around the topic of zines. Some Dig!Arts group members have long collected zines for personal interest while others have made their own zines for distribution. As librarians, it is the ephemeral nature of these unique publications that appeal to us and our desire to help preserve and promote them.
While traditionally thought to be outside the mainstream, zines and the artists who create them are increasingly becoming more prevalent as zine-focused events and how-to workshops pop-up across local communities. Philadelphia’s own zine scene is solid with established zinesters, zine fests, 24-hour zine challenges, and even zine libraries. Surely, we thought, here was something to tap into for a digital project.
Through local connections, we’ve been courting a Philly-based zinester interested in becoming part of a permanent collection. We recently visited the potential donor at her studio space to get a sneak peak of the zines in her personal collection.
The collector, who is working on cataloging the collection, pulled out hundreds of zines from a simple cardboard box. Very quickly we were awash in art zines, literary zines, comic zines, fem-zines, split zines, and more. There were also zines created by local artists/creators about day-to-day life in Philly.
As we examined the zines, the collector shared stories related to how she acquired particular zines as well as facts about the artists/creators. Her stories were fascinating.
We discussed our desire to help make connections between the collection and teaching/scholarship opportunities at Temple and beyond through a possible digital exhibition. We left the collector excited, brimming with ideas.
Stay tuned as the Dig!Arts group continues with its digital project.
 For a working definition of zines, check out zine librarian Jenna Freedman’s discussion of zine characteristics.