By Leigh Hurwitz Brooklyn Public Library
In April, I will have the privilege of leading the inaugural session of Zine Mania!, a zine-making workshop series, created by Maria Falgoust, HVLA Vice President and Librarian at the
International School of Brooklyn (ISB), where the series is being held. ISB students will be able to participate in any or all of five sessions focusing on various aspects of zine creation: Sara Varon (printmaker, illustrator, author) will demonstrate how to make accordion zines; Eliseo Rivera (educator, artist) will show students the art of photo collage zines; Esther K. Smith (artist, designer, author) will take a deeper dive into zine construction and bookmaking; Elvis Bakaitis (librarian, cartoonist, zine author) will focus on autobiographical and biographical zines; and Ayde Rayas (artist, educator, Licensed Creative Art Therapist), along with her students from Cooke Academy, will collaborate with ISB students to make zines.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this project is that the zines produced by students in these workshops will be made available as a special collection in the ISB library. To start your own collection, come on April 10th when HVLA will be hosting a Zine and Comic Making Workshop, led by Elvis (see above). HVLA members will have the chance to bask in the glow of The Drawing Center and create material that can be shared with your respective communities.
As a public librarian and avid comics/zine imbiber and amateur cartoonist/zinester myself, I have been increasingly looking for ways to incorporate zines and comics into library programming, and encourage schools to do the same in the classroom. A couple of examples of the ways I’ve used zines (both reading and creating them) in my work include “A Zine About Using the Library,” and “Genderful!: The Zine.”
I created “A Zine About Using the Library” for Cypress Hills Community School’s annual Write 2 Read Day in 2016, wherein I invited Jan Descartes and Elvis (see above) to facilitate a student workshop about DIY comics and zines, with an emphasis on autobiography and biography. Much of the content was based on Our Comics, Ourselves, an exhibit and programming series curated at Interference Archive in 2016. The zine I made was intended to give students a quick guide to accessing Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) print and digital collections, “with a wildly random and incomplete list of graphic memoirs and autobiographies” (also the zine’s subtitle).
“Genderful!: The Zine” was a collaborative zine created during Genderful! Exploring Gender Through Art, an event I co-organized with local non-profit, If You Want It, in October 2017, at BPL. I learned about the collaborative zine model from Book Riot’s now-defunct Book Riot Live conference in 2016, when they set up a table for attendees to create zine pages and drop them into a box, to be compiled by the organizers later and made into a digital zine. That is precisely what we did during Genderful! There were no prompts, but we set up a similar creation station for attendees (the audience was children 6-12 years old and their caregivers).
There is a current running through Zine Mania!, HVLA’s upcoming member workshop, Jan and Elvis’ Write 2 Read Day session, and the Genderful! collaborative zine - the action of creating zines and the connection with co-creators and ultimately, readers, gives meaning to the zines just as much as the fact of their production. The experience of learning is often weighed down by focusing on outcomes and results, but as the more important element is process, zines can be a great way to emphasize this aspect. Consider bringing zine workshops into your libraries and empower your students!
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Leigh Hurwitz is a librarian at Brooklyn Public Library. Leigh's current professional areas of focus include intersectional, queer-affirming/inclusive gender and sexuality education for all ages, comics literacy and appreciation, and school outreach. Leigh has partnered with many organizations to deliver library programming, including Octavia Project, If You Want It, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Hollaback!, and Interference Archive.