Watertown Free Public Library adds 700 zines to circulation

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The Watertown Free Public Library wants everyone to feel at home, which is one of the reasons they have added a collection of around 700 zines, hand-painted illustrated magazines, to their collection. WFPL’s collection of zines is written on a variety of topics such as politics, gentrification, advocacy, the pandemic, and whatever the authors are passionate about.

The public is invited to learn more about zines at the library’s Zine Fest in person, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 2. More than 30 zines from here and elsewhere will present and sell their creations to the public during a Zine Market. There will also be presentations throughout the day from zinesters on the topics they write about, such as how zines help people with mental health issues. An author will share her experience as a lesbian who grew up in Hong Kong; an Afro-Latino author, visual artist and organizer from Dorchester to discuss his zine, “The Negro Flowers Series”; and a resident of Watertown will discuss the zinester experience in Boston in the 80s and 90s.

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Participants will also have the opportunity to create their own zines in the Zine Hive which will be added to the library’s circulation and local history collection.

“We hope people in the future will review them and learn more about Watertown and what it was like,” said Carey Conkey-Finn, supervisor of teen services for WFPL and organizer of Zine Fest.

She said they hope the library’s new collection of fanzines will attract new demographics to the library, including marginalized voices, people of color and indigenous peoples.

“It’s activism. It is a social cause. They are trying to change the attitudes of the public and that is often what a zine does. It’s sharing ideas. At the same time, it is a manual, ”said Jamie Kallestad, Print and Digital Promotion Specialist for WFPL.

Megan Ramette, Watertown and Zinester Public Library Staff.

Zinester Megan Ramette

Megan Ramette of Allston, a staff member in the WFPL traffic department, is a zinester. She said that before writing her own zines, she was an avid reader and was particularly interested in the music scene.

“I loved picking up all kinds of zines from the merch tables in people’s basements and small craft rooms around Cambridge and Allston – group tour journals, activism zines, even poetry chapbooks. “said Ramette.

She befriended writers of humorous newspaper zines and looked forward to seeing a manila envelope in her dorm mailbox filled with their zines at the end of each month.

Ramette wrote a two-art zine series for the library’s circulating collection. The first is titled “Mutual Aid: A Useful Introduction”, where it defines the terms relating to mutual aid. Her second zine is an educational guide to community refrigerators titled “Take What You Need, Leave What You Can.”

“I wanted to create a series that would first lay the foundation for theory and exploration, without the often inaccessible and academic language, and then provide an example of theory in practice,” she said.

Zinester Seth Deitch from Watertown

Zinester Seth Deitch

Watertown resident Seth Deitch published his first zine “Get Stupid” in the summer of 1983 with three longtime friends. It was a platform for his collage art, humor, and comics and ran for 15 issues.

“Back when I did this, I had no idea that there were other people doing this, that there was an ocean of zines out there. The vast majority of them were punk rock, so what I was doing was definitely out of the ordinary, ”he said.

Deitch has published many other zines as well and got involved with Skidmark Press, a zine publishing house. After editing numerous zines for Skidmar, he began to focus on publishing his own paperbacks under the imprint of Xenolite Press.

Collection of approximately 700 zines from the Watertown Free Public Library.

“Zines are where you hear from strangers who don’t even pretend they’re trying to please everyone. These are voices you won’t hear in other media. A number of great writers and artists have emerged from the “zinedom”. It’s a chance to see some very interesting careers develop, ”said Deitch.

Zinester Will Quinn

Watertown resident and illustrator Will Quinn is another zinester who will be part of the WFPL’s Zine Fest Marketplace. He started writing zines in high school. He will be selling his latest series of “Catbarge” zines, bunnies, stickers and original designs.

He is very excited about the WFPL zine collection and the opportunity it offers to independent zine artists who lack the marketing skills of mainstream publishers, making it difficult for them to get noticed.

“Public libraries are a great place to help self-published small works find their audiences, so I’m glad we’re seeing more and more places starting zine collections,” Quinn said.

Somerville Public Library is the only other nearby library that has an outstanding zine collection, according to Conkey-Finn.

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“Zines are a way to express oneself and connect with one another, and it’s so inspiring to see the incredible amount of information we have to offer from so many voices and community members in this collection, ”Ramette said.

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