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Collection Development Policy

Page history last edited by Tyler Hauck 11 years, 10 months ago

Zine Archive & Publishing Project (ZAPP) Collection Development Policy


Purpose of this policy


This policy is designed to ensure that the development of ZAPPs collection, through expansion and refinement, is carried out in a manner that will positively contribute to the fulfillment of ZAPPs goals.

ZAPP will only seek to acquire, and will only accept donations of, items that meet the criteria outlined in this policy.  ZAPP may also remove items from its collection at its discretion; these decisions will also be made using the criteria outlined in this policy.


This policy is a living document, as is subject to change without notice, as ZAPPs needs dictate.

Collection Development as a means of achieving ZAPP’s goals

This policy is designed to further the goals of ZAPP, as outlined in its Vision Statement: namely the preservation of zines, making zines available to the public, encouraging the creation of new zines, and raising awareness about the importance of zines.

As such, the following principles are considered when making decisions regarding the development of ZAPP’s collection.

ZAPP’s collection should reflect diversity. ZAPP will not privilege specific types of zines or specific types of content over others. The collection should illustrate the breadth and depth of the medium, to show what is possible; limiting the types of zines available in the collection compromises that goal.  Diversity of content will also properly reflect ZAPP’s values of intellectual freedom and integrity, respect for different viewpoints and lifestyles, and freedom of expression.

ZAPP’s collection is a living archive. Zines and zine culture are ever-changing, and ZAPP’s collection must reflect this change. New materials must be added to the collection, or it will become less and less relevant with time.

ZAPP’s collection serves as an example of what zines are, and can be. ZAPP’s collection is used in classes taught at ZAPP and in ZAPP’s outreach efforts.  It is a source of information and inspiration for ZAPP’s users, and it is the main resource used by ZAPP to educate people about the world of zines: their form, meaning, significance, etc.  As such, the collection should reflect as many different aspects of the medium of zines as practical, and as accurately as possible.  If the collection itself does not reflect the elements of zines and zine culture that ZAPP wishes to communicate, its usefulness as a resource for doing outreach will be limited.

Practical concerns come first. Preserving zines and making them available to the public means having the facilities necessary to do so. Items need to be stored in a way that makes them accessible to ZAPP’s users and does not compromise their physical integrity. ZAPP will not accept donations if the infrastructure needed to properly store the items in question is not available.

ZAPP’s mission does not extend to other media that exhibit similar values. Radical newspapers, the independent music press and other publications outside the mainstream may all share certain qualities with zines, but ZAPP’s mission is limited to zines exclusively. Including other types of materials in the collection therefore does not serve to further ZAPP’s goals.

Defining what materials ZAPP collects

ZAPP’s collection consists of zines, but there is no one commonly accepted definition of a zine.  To define a zine in strict terms is essentially impossible; the following criteria are used by ZAPP not as strict rules, but as a general guideline to determine whether or not an item belongs in ZAPP’s collection.

What is a zine?

These are the qualities typical of a zine, but there may be exceptions.   

  • Zines are usually self-published.  There are organizations that publish zines, but the majority of zines are published by their creator or creators.
  • Zines are typically published in small runs. A run of more than several thousand copies is rare for a zine.
  • Zines are not published solely for commercial profit. If an item has been published by a private, for-profit entity, it is probably not a zine.
  • A zine is a tangible product.  It is not published on the internet without an accompanying paper (or other physical material) edition.
  • Zines are usually printed using accessible materials, most often with a photocopier, and occasionally with an offset printing process. However, note that it is not uncommon for zines to be made with a one-of-a-kind, book art sensibility.
  • Zines are not limited to certain topics or themes.

What isn’t a zine?

Some examples of zine-like items that are not zines:

  • Smaller-scale or “underground” newspapers, like community newspapers, weekly “alternative” newspapers, and politically radical newspapers.  Though often similar to zines in terms of political disposition, publications like this adhere to the principles of traditional journalism and the form of the newspaper more strictly, and are thus not really zines.  Examples: The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, Capitol Hill Times, Real Change, The Tablet, Eat the State!, Industrial Worker.
  • Newsstand magazines and comics.  If an item is widely sold on newsstands, the economic goals of its publishers are by definition different than the goals of a zine publisher. Examples: Spin, Rolling Stone, Ms., Mother Jones, comics published by Archie Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics.
  • Academic journals or newsletters/magazines of professional organizations and institutions. Many such publications are not-for-profit, which does make their publications somewhat similar to zines.  Examples: AWIS Magazine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Academy of the Natural Sciences Newsletter.
  • Literary journals.  Examples: Grand St., Meridian, American Literary Review, The Paris Review, Granta, Bricolage.
  • Newsletters

Ambiguous materials

Certain types of publications share fundamental qualities with zines, or are connected to zines and zine culture in particular ways.  Deciding whether these materials belong in ZAPPs collection is inherently difficult, and this will be done strictly on a case-by-case basis.

  • Underground comics.  Many comics are published in small runs, by independent authors or small presses.  Though published in a format that resembles traditional newsstand comics, these underground comics can often be very similar to zines in terms of author intent, profitability, and cultural context.
  • Chapbooks.  Chapbooks belong to a literary tradition that predates zines, but like zines they are often self-published and printed in small runs.
  • Religious tracts. Though they do not have any direct connections to zines or zine culture, these are often self-published and distributed through non-commercial channels.
  • Political pamphlets. Like religious tracts, these can be self-published, and are usually distributed through non-commercial channels, and can be zine-like in form.  But like chapbooks they belong to an older, distinct tradition.
  •  Multimedia.  This includes both multimedia materials accompanying print zines, and zines issued on non-print media.  A zine may be considered incomplete without the materials included with it by the creator(s), thus these materials should be included if the zine is added to ZAPPs collection.  It is also possible that a zine creator may eschew print entirely and publish a zine using only non-print media.  

Other considerations

ZAPP may decline donations of items that are readily available at other libraries in the Seattle area.

ZAPP’s collection contains some items that do not fit the criteria outlined above.  These items were added to the collection before this policy was adopted on January 26, 2012, and have thus been exempted from the usual screening process.

ZAPP may also elect to include in the collection items that do not meet the criteria outlined above, but which have been deemed by ZAPP to be critically relevant to zines and zine culture, or that have a significant connection to an item or items in the collection that do meet said criteria.

What we do with materials that do not fit the collection

The decision to add items to, or remove them from, the collection is made by ZAPP staff, volunteers, and/or interns, who understand the collection and its needs.  We cannot guarantee that we will be able to contact the donator of the item if it does not fit the parameters of our collection, but we will always make a good faith effort to transfer the item in question to an appropriate alternate location.  This may be another zine library, a public library, or an interested party’s private collection.  We do not sell items from the collection or otherwise use them for commercial purposes.

Removing items from the collection will be avoided if at all possible.  We may decide that an item needs to be removed from the collection in some cases, such as:

  • The item is severely damaged, rendering it unusable
  • We reexamine the item and conclude that it does not in fact meet the criteria outlined in this policy
  • The item is now readily available at another library in the Seattle area


This document last modified 1/30/2012


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