Part of the Monroe County Public Library zine collection. Photo by Nicole McPheeters


When local nonprofit bookstore Boxcar Books closed in 2017, the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) was the recipient of more than 300 zines, increasing its collection to nearly 600 of the small-circulation magazines that are typically self-published and frequently photocopied. 

“Right now in Indiana, the MCPL and the [Indiana University] LGBTQ+ Library are the only libraries where you can actually check out zines,” says librarian Annise Blanchard, who, along with librarian Edwin Fallwell, is in charge of the zine collection. 

Unlike large-scale magazines, zines frequently represent unfiltered local news and/or history from marginalized perspectives. 

“They give voice to underrepresented groups, like people of color, queer communities, and workers in fringe economies,” Blanchard says.

The zines in the MCPL collection are largely created by populations who may not have any other way to create a publication—everyone from children to prison inmates.   

“Rhino’s [Youth Center], which closed recently, used to put out a zine called The Antagonist, and we have some issues of that in our archive,” Fallwell says. “There was also a zine put out by The Project School about mental health that was written by kids, for kids.”

Fallwell has teamed up with Jeannette Lehr, an MCPL digital creativity specialist, to offer a zine workshop this fall. On Thursday, November 7, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., adults and children 12 and older are invited to the MCPL’s Level Up Center to  learn how to create their own zines using Adobe InDesign tools and digital materials. 

The MCPL will also host a zine workshop on Saturday, October 19, at the annual Bloomington Zinefest, which benefits the Bloomington ABC’s Anarchist Prisoner War Fund. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet writers and artists as well as buy and trade zines from exhibitors. The event, at the I Fell Building, 415 W. 4th St., runs from noon to 6 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $1. 

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