Category Archives: In Case You Missed It

Defying Meanies and the Status Quo

Elvis Zine Illustration

“Do you make zines?” I heard this asked a lot at the Feminist Zine Fest. I think it captures the inclusiveness of the community that convened in Barnard Hall Saturday, March 1st. Barnard zine librarian Jenna Freedman secured the space for the event, previously held at The Commons in Brooklyn. About 40 tablers in all lined the room, their tabletops covered with not only zines but lollipops, QR code tablecloths, pom-poms, pins, patches, garland, rocks, and stuffed animals. DJ Troy Frost, herself a zinester, artist and self-described “feminist supastar” provided the soundtrack.

There were zines covering topics of race, sexuality, identity, personal histories and family histories. If you were looking for a yoga themed zine, or a zine about unhelpful cats, there was a table that had it! Natsumi, a recent graduate of The School of Oriental and African Studies, grabbed a zine about Nigeria.

For those who really want to get deep in zine culture, libraries like the ones at Barnard College and the Papercut Zine Library in Cambridge, MA house thousands of zines. I chatted with Mitch from Papercut Zine Library who told me libraries play an important role in giving a home to zines and preserving the narratives of marginalized people. Zines are primary resources of people’s lives, many of whom are underrepresented in mainstream publishing. Zine libraries help to fill that void.

Some zines that caught my eye were not concerned with telling personal stories. Elvis Bakaitis, an organizer, displayed a series called Homos in Herstory (and drew the cool illustration above). Another zinester had compiled all of her favorite quotes from books she’s read since the 10th grade. A few tables over Nicole, a social studies teacher at the Calhoun School displayed some zines made by teens of various ages at the school. On the Zinefest blog Nicole talked about the process of making zines with the young women, “We had to negotiate what to include, how to represent ourselves and contributors, how to deal with conflict. So, zine making was a really important feminist praxis for me.”

Walking around the room, I wanted to read all the zines and celebrate their uniqueness. For the rest of the day I was very proud to wear a pin that read, in script letters, “don’t be mean, make a zine!”

(Artwork: Elvis Bakaitis)

Making Pins at Zine Fest

Barnard Zine Club

dj troy frost feminist zine fest

Tables at Fest

(Photos: Library Manifesto)

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3-D Printing, DOMA and Doughnuts

LM's Best of 2013

Library Manifesto recommends the following blog posts and articles from 2013:

People that use 3-D printers to make guns feature in this (slightly terrifying) video from Vice that shows the use and possible misuse of new technologies.

My friends know of my obsession with doughnuts. My obsession intensified in 2013 after seeing this doughnut-archive collaboration that helped University of Oregon purchase author Ken Kesey’s (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) archive.

WITNESS put together this comprehensive guide to digital recording for activists on a tight budget, which is basically every activist.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger offered some interesting analysis of Edward Snowden and the public in this A New York Review of Books article.

…But this GIF said it all.

I had a blast at Booklyn Artists Alliance for their 24-Hour Zine Spree.

This slideshow of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer had me in tears when Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional.

NPR’s piece about the anticipated vast media archive of President Obama.

India said goodbye to telegrams.

And the funnest oral history project.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting the blog this year. Happy 2014!

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Two Awesomebrarians in the Spotlight

Glean Creason and Megan Prelinger

A great library can only exist with the efforts of a great librarian, someone who leads and provides an example to the staff and who lives and breathes their collection.

I applaud when blogs and newspapers spotlight librarians who provide a unique service to their towns and cities. In the case of Glen Creason, map librarian, his familiarity with the public library’s city map collections are tested by patron’s reference questions on the regular. The hidden story of L.A. found in the 100,000-plus maps have led to exhibits and articles. Creason’s 2010 book “Los Angeles in Maps” tells an illustrated history of 469 square miles of metropolis.

From Los Angeles Times:

“People always say, ‘Why is Los Angeles so spread out?’ and there’s so many reasons for that,” Creason says. “The streetcar lines were basically created by people who were going to make a lot of money selling real estate and that meant connecting everything that they could.

“These things that are reflected on these maps are either to make railways where you’re going to sell real estate along the path, you’re going to control water, you’re going to have movie studios, you’re going to sell the land to the rubes, and you portray Los Angeles as a garden.”

Another article I liked came from the blog at ModCloth an e-commerce site.”Renegade” librarian Megan Prelinger opened the Prelinger Library in San Francisco in 2004 with her husband Rick Prelinger. Their library came from a desire to build a community around an eccentric collection of books, periodicals, ephemera, government documents, and zines. In the library a neon sign reads “Free Speech, Fear Free.” The library stays true to that mantra. Many of their items are viewable for free on the Internet Archive and the library invites all people to research for free, they’re open Wednesdays.

From ModCloth:

“I started out pursuing a career as an indie historian, trying to determine what it would mean to write or understand history based on resources that were different from what was in mainstream libraries,” she says. “I started with the idea of doing new historical research based on found and forgotten materials.” “When I graduated, I didn’t really want to go back to school,” says Megan. “I wanted to go on field trips and road trips around the U.S. — which I did, and I started finding and collecting things in used bookstores and the backs of gas stations.”

The two articles about standout librarians in California make me stoked for the attention hard working professionals bring to our field.

Images from Los Angeles Times and ModCloth.

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Can Drawing Give us a New Perspective on Archives?

The Brooklyn Rail Matthew Barney Review

Anyone who’s ever picked up a pencil to draw knows that, most often, the end result and what we saw in our heads are not the same picture. How much is an archive a trace of something rather than complete and trustworthy representation?

I had just this thought while reading about artist Matthew Barney’s multidimensional approach to drawing in Thyrza Nichols Goodeve’s “A Possible Reading of Matthew Barney’s Drawings” in the July/August Brooklyn Rail. American artist Matthew Barney is known for his epic video works, but he is sharing his sketches in “Subliming Vessel: The Drawings of Matthew Barney” up at the Morgan Library through September 8th. In the show, framed drawings hang on the walls beside vitrines holding books selected by Barney from the Morgan Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (where the show will be on display October – December, 2013). In the context of The Morgan Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, these drawings bring to mind the relationship between creating a drawing and creating an archive.

In the article, Nichols Goodeve interprets Matthew Barney’s drawings through the guiding words of another artist, Roni Horn. Horn explains how drawings and the act of drawing can mirror memory making and documenting. A drawing in the words of Horn, “is a record of energy spent and mime recorded.” So, in a way, a drawing is a retelling of what has already happened. A drawing is layered with a series of sweeps, marks, dashes and dots. A drawing is a product of a continual thought. It builds on the previous idea. Each decision influencing the next.

Horn eloquently makes the connection between drawings and memories with this observation: “Sometimes a drawing is palimpsestic in nature, becoming a history of itself. The cumulative record of acts committed or a sum of memories recalled. It’s been said that every time you use a memory you change it, and that the safest memories are in the minds of amnesiacs. But for non-amnesiacs we have stories, traces, and drawings.”


The article has made me look more deeply at drawing which the reviewer Nichols Goodeve defines as “both a vehicle for action (verb) and an object of production (noun)” because isn’t the same true for an archive? I hope that examining the process of drawing can bring a new perspective to the practice of archiving.

Image: Cetacea (2006), via Art Observed

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In case you just woke up from a month long nap: International Zine Month

International Zine Library Day Barnard

July was International Zine Month (IZM.) The zine community cut and pasted their way through the month (including a heat wave for East Coasters) growing awareness for zines and camaraderie for zine makers. To me zines are fun, personal, and often have a sense of humor, and I appreciate the personal touch reflected through the hand assembled components of each booklet.

Jenna Freedman of the Barnard Zine Library (BZL) celebrated International Zine Library Day July 31st with crafts and commemorative buttons. Jenna defines a zine as publication having these five characteristics:

1. Self-published and the publisher doesn’t answer to anyone

2. Small, self-distributed print run

3. Motivated by desire to express oneself rather than to make money

4. Outside the mainstream

5. Low budget

I had always taken a supporter from afar approach to zines, so I used International Zine Month as an opportunity to read more about the history of the zine and even had the chance to contribute to Booklyn Artists Alliance’s (BAA) 24-hr Zine Spree. People dropped in to create a collaborative 24-page zine and the amazing staff at BAA provided the supplies, pizza, and cookies. What could be more conducive to creative zine making?

Zine Spree Library Manifesto

Natalie zine spree

If you missed some of July’s zine festivities, here are links to get you started on zine reading, collecting, and/or making. If you were really into zine month, you can pick up right where you left off.

How to make a one-page zine

Goings on at the Zine Librarian Unconference in Iowa City July 13 – 14 #iczluc

One minute Zine Reviews

July 31st was HallowZINE, pay tribute to self-publishers who’ve past

A list of select Zine Libraries around the country and world

A zine history

Photo of me and Maya by Matt. (I’m on the left.)

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Merce Cunningham’s Time Capsules

Merce Cunningham Black Mountain

The archives of the Merce Cunningham Trust were recently featured in the literary journal n+1. Cunningham, who died in 2009, was one of the most prominent choreographers and dancers of the 20th century. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company and their archivist David Vaughan faced some interesting challenges in preserving Cunningham’s work. Cunningham’s style kept people guessing. He would try rolling a dice to determine which direction dancers would move their heads or limbs, or map movements giving only sparing instructions to dancers. Cunningham rarely explained or interpreted his work, not even to the dancers with whom he developed the pieces. And, although many dances were documented through photography and film, Cunningham did not make any authoritative choreographic scores.

After Cunningham turned 90 the foundation announced that the Merce Cunningham Trust would establish a “Living Legacy Plan” which included the creation of “Dance Capsules” online, where the trust would have overviews, music from the performance, videos, and any other information available about the performance reported directly from those involved. Interested parties are able to license the “Dance Capsules” to perform with the goal that performances be as close to the intention of the artist as possible. It’s an interesting model for non-profit archives because of the possibility to attract funds while building a legacy around the work. I also think calling these packages “Capsules” is a clever idea.

The archives live at the New York Public Library and The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The NYPL finding aid can be viewed here. Images by Hazel Larsen Archer from the archives at NYPL were taken at Black Mountain College.

Merce Cunningham Black Mountain

Merce Cunningham Black Mountain

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In case you missed it…Big Data

NY Magazine "The $250,000 Physical"

The controversy surrounding the NSA and government surveillance made me pay special attention to the accompanying wave of news coverage about Big Data and data mining.

New York Magazine’s Best Doctors Issue featured a story about MetaMed, a company introducing new information systems to our health care. MetaMed representatives Skype with patients about their medical history, do blood tests, and genetic profiles eventually generating a full report that may recommend tweaks in medication or specialists to see. It’s cofounder, Michael Vassar says “Almost all of the health care that people get is going to be done – hopefully- by algorithms within a decade or two.”

NY Times "Big Data"

The New York Times published a Special Section on Big Data last week which laid out some interesting trends in how people are using Big Data. CVS Caremark collected data about customers habits and found that their best shoppers were ones with chronic conditions. By targeting those customers who are prescribed medication for 1-2 years but stopped refilling after just a few months, CVS filled a revenue gap they had previously overlooked.

Political camps use microtargeting to isolate voter groups and send tailored messages based on family status, age, education, etc.. Such methods helped Obama’s team earn the title of “most technologically advanced campaign in American history.” Sunday’s New York Times Magazine takes a more in depth look at how Obama’s data crunchers are now taking their skills corporate.

The cover image from the NY Times  is from Jonathan Harris’ We Feel Fine project. Blogs were screened for the words “I feel..” or “I am feeling…” and the artist created beautiful infographics according to positive and negative sentiments. This is a reminder that data may be impersonal but comes from people (with feelings) who can benefit or be taken advantage of depending on which direction Big Data heads.

I’m reminded by these articles that MLS holders are just a few of the many people using large datasets. I hope that there can be a good exchange of experience and skills between these different data disciplines. As big data expands, remember this tidbit from Jeffrey Hammerbacher, one of the field’s pioneers, “Just because you can’t measure it easily doesn’t mean it’s not important.”



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