papercut zine library

Small-print-run fanzines and special-interest indie magazines – commonly abbreviated to just zines – are one of the most eccentric manifestations of DIY print. And the Papercut Zine Library in Somerville, MA, is devoted entirely to them.

As you can see from the Library’s own photo above, it’s one of the dinkier libraries around, as well as one of the most out there. Zines typically have a strong alternative/counter-cultural flavor, and the Papercut Zine Library absolutely breathes the spirit. As its own description explains:

Papercut Zine Library is home to nearly 15,000 independently published materials known as “zines.” A zine often resembles a magazine, but is not produced on a mass-scale and has very few or no ads. The Papercut collection includes categories such as: Political, Feminism, Environment/Animals, Health/Sexuality, XXX (erotica/porn), Personal, Comics, Art/Film, Literature/Poetry, Queer/Trans, Race, Religion, Travel, Food/Cookbooks, Sports/Bikes, DIY/How-To, Foreign Language, Music, Parenting/Education, and more.

A recent article in The Guardian has the full story, and emphasizes that zines are surviving and thriving despite the migration of print to online. One widely accepted definition states that a zine needs a circulation of 1,000 or less to merit the tag. Webzines and blogs may have caught their flame, but zines seem to be still carrying the torch regardless.

The Library continues:

Papercut is a fully-functioning lending library, with a focus on hand-made and independently produced materials. Our collection includes everything from the all-familiar photocopied punk rock zines from the 80’s to hand-crafted personal zines bound together with yarn. Papercut is run by a collective of volunteer librarians. In addition to archiving and maintaining this collection, librarians also host a number of events including zine making workshops and zine release parties.

It’s hard to imagine anything more charming. Rad, dude.


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