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Making Zines with the Rutgers Art Library

What is a Zine?

A zine (/zn/ ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier. Zines are the product of either a single person or of a very small group, and are popularly photocopied into physical prints for circulation. A fanzine (blend of fan and magazine) is a non-professional and non-official publication produced by enthusiasts of a particular cultural phenomenon (such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest. The term was coined in an October 1940 science fiction fanzine by Russ Chauvenet and popularized within science fiction fandom, entering the Oxford English Dictionary in 1949.[1]

Incorporating zines into courses

A unique subculture has emerged around zine making and collecting as this powerful tool represents a creative, low-cost, DIY means of self-expression and idea sharing. In libraries, zines are a creative way to learn about visual culture, open-access, visual literacy, information literacy, self-expression, problem solving, and more. Making zines with images from rare and unique ephemera lets individuals reuse, remix, and recreate art while learning about histories and ideas from the past. At the same time, zines can be an engaging and non-threatening way to talk about issues around cultural appropriation, cultural sensitivity, and inclusivity.

Creating a zine is similar to writing a paper, telling a story, or making art.  All zines have a beginning, an end, and are inspired by information which can be found in scholarly resources, or other materials readily available in libraries virtual and physical spaces. 

Want to learn more about zines or incorporate them into your courses continue to read through this guide and/or please contact Megan Lotts, Art Librarian at

Brief History of Zines

A Brief History of Zines, from the Pratt Libraries Zines: A basic guide to finding, making, and teaching.

1930s- Science fiction fandoms began creating fanzines as a form of community building among fans of the newly blossoming Science Fiction genre. Sci-fi fanzines continued into the 1960s, finding a new audience alongside the hit show, Star Trek.

1950s- 1960s- The beginning of the Underground press boom with the rise of counterculture movements and youth taking a stance on topics such as politics, art, social issues, sexual liberation, and recreational drugs.

1970s-1980s- With advances in technology allowed for cheap and accessible reproductions, Punk shaped the "Do It Yourself" philosophy. Anyone who wanted to share the love of a band or their local music scene now had the ability to do so.

1990's- The Riot Grrrl Movement gave a voice to all the young girls and women who were sidelined in the male-dominated punk scene. Their zines reflect their attitude with a focus on feminism and female empowerment. The mission was to create a space for women to discuss issues that mainstream society tried mute. Topics include sexuality, patriarchy, rape, and other forms of sexual abuse, eating disorders, domestic abuse, mental illness, and sexism. 

Today- Zines are more accessible now than ever before. It has become a way to share art and writing, as well as discuss topics around the LGTBQ community, social justice, the environment, and body positivity. Zines have made a resurgence with the LGTBQ community and people of color to talk about their experiences and share their messages, and start a dialogue without compromise. 


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