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For this Seattle librarian, cataloguing 30,000 zines is personal


Before Facebook and Instagram, before blogs and before the internet, some creative people with something to say put time and effort into making their own magazines. They’re called zines.


“The way I describe zines is they are small, handmade magazines that made out of passion and they are not made for profit,” said Seattle librarian Abby Bass. “They are very idiosyncratic, individual publications that really reflect the passions and opinions of particular individuals.”


Bass is one of the people in charge of the Seattle Public Library’s “Zine Archive & Publishing Project,” or ZAPP for short. Bass worked with this collection once before as a volunteer when it was housed at Richard Hugo House on Capitol Hill.


Today, Bass is working to catalogue the more than 30,000 zines in the collection from all over the country. This work is personal for Bass.


“I actually started making zines when I was 13 years old," Bass said. "I went to summer camp in North Carolina and and the art director at that camp was the editor for a local zine that he published and, in fact, I think those zines are in this collection."


People often put in the time and effort into making zines when they could not find anything in the mainstream media that reflected their values and experience. In this story, Bass tells us about these very personal labors of love and shares some examples of what people shared with others on those pages.  



Credit Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX
Abby Bass shows one of many zines at the Zine Archive & Publishing Project at the Seattle Central Library. ZAPP has a collection of over 30,000 zines, minicomics and other self-published and small press titles.


Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.