Just like vinyl records, zines — handmade compilations of writing, illustrations and photos — are growing in popularity after suffering a setback with the rise of the Internet and other formats.
Now, a Hillsborough County librarian is among those hoping to create a library of them in Tampa.
Philip Bloom, 36, said he first fell for zines while interviewing for a job in Olympia, Wash. He didn't get the job, but got to scour the library's collection.
"When I got a chance to really look around, it was really kind of a stunning experience for me," he said. "It was at that point that I decided I would like to try to do something like that."
After moving to Tampa, Bloom talked about the idea with fellow librarian Megan Danak for years. But it wasn't until preparing for Tampa Zine Fest, which took place in July at the Roosevelt 2.0, that he said the possibility of a collection seemed concrete. He asked zinemakers with tables to offer a copy of their work and attendees to donate as well. The results were the several hundred zines that make up the current collection.
There's another Tampa zine event set for 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the University of South Florida's Contemporary Art Museum. It has no official connection to the library, Bloom said, but helps foster the local zine scene he hopes for.
Zines rose to prominence by documenting subcultures such as 1970s and '80s punk. Others dealt with personal and political issues like the '90s feminist "riot grrrl" movement.
Shae Krispinsky, a 30-year-old organizer for the library and Zine Fest, said she first learned about zines in high school in Hermitage, Pa., through riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. She started making her own.
"The whole thing was anyone can do this and it can be about anything," she said. "I didn't just want to be reading other people's zines, I wanted to be able to trade and be part of that community."
Krispinsky began making zines again after moving to Tampa in 2007. She also met Bloom through Tampa Free Skool, which hosts zine workshops, and discussed the idea of a library.
The Jacksonville Public Library opened a zine collection in 2009, advertised by posters of celebrities with zines. Director John Waters posed with Crap Hound #4 in one. Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna read Doris #26 in another.
Another zine collection resides in Gainesville's Civic Media Center, which also houses the library of Florida activist Stetson Kennedy. Krispinsky said she would love to have a space like that in Tampa one day.
But for now, the organizers envision a "popup library," where part of the collection could be moved and installed in different locations. That could be a coffee shop, an art gallery or Bluebird Books, a local bus that travels with literature.
The collection is being catalogued through the online program LibraryThing.com, which would let it be integrated into a larger library later if desired. But Bloom said the zine library will happen even if another library isn't interested.
"I want to leave the possibility of it being absorbed into perhaps a university library or public library, but none of that is really necessary," he said.
It's also uncertain when the library will be completed. It depends on how many people help catalog the collection, but organizers said they hope it could be done before next year's Tampa Zine Fest.
First, they must sort through the several hundred zines gathered so far. Some, like a '90s Joy Division fanzine, come from a different era. Bloom said others were created specifically for Zine Fest by people who'd never made one before.
"There is a tremendous amount of talent that came together for this," he said. "I had no idea there was so much happening in Tampa."
And a zine library would archive those voices in a way that an Internet post wouldn't, Krispinsky said.
"I still have my zines from when I was collecting in high school and I'll have those forever, whereas a blog can be taken down," she said. "So it's a different kind of permanence in a way . . . I'm also going to have those zines as long as I'm alive, and I can read a zine when the power's out."
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