Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by
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#223, August 20, 2004

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

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My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for previous presentations I've done, click on Handouts

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My Writings
A bibliography of my published articles and columns, with links to those available online.

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Order My Books

Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet, and The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint.

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What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

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E-Mail Subscription?

For a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, use the same form but click on "unsubscribe." To change addresses for an existing subscription, unsubscribe from that form and return to the page to enter the new address.

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Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. Corollary: Who Cares?
  3. The answer depends on the question
  4. Research is a multi-stage process
  5. Ask a Librarian
  6. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  7. Information can be true and still wrong
  8. Pay attention to the jokes

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Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin
  15. John Guscott
  16. Brian Smith
  17. Darlene Fichter
  18. Brenda Bailey-Hainer
  19. Walt Crawford
  20. Molly Williams
  21. Genie Tyburski
  22. Patrice McDermott
  23. Carrie Bickner
  24. Karen G. Schneider
  25. Roddy MacLeod, Part I
  26. Roddy MacLeod, Part II
  27. John Hubbard
  28. Micki McIntyre

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Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

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When and How To Search the Net

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Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 200 and 500 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

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Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Write me at: marylaine at

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related.

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How To Find Out of Print Books
Suggested strategies, resources, and finding tools.

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Best Information on the Net
bestinfo/default.htmThe directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

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My Word's Worth
an occasional column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

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Book Proposal

Land of Why Not: an Appreciation of America. Proposal for an anthology of some of my best writing. An outline and sample columns are available here.

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My personal page


Bartel, Julie. From A to Zine: Building a Winning Zine Collection in Your Library. ALA, August, 2004. 0-8389-0886-1. $35 (ALA members, $31.50), ALA order # 0886-1-2443. Reviewed by Marylaine Block

Julie Bartel, young adult librarian at the Salt Lake City Public Library, is a pioneer in adding alternative press materials to library collections. Her reasons were both philosophical and practical:

  • She accepts wholeheartedly the obligation imposed on librarians by the Library Bill of Rights and ALA's Freedom To Read statement, to collect the widest range of ideas without regard to their popularity or the format they come in.
  • She believes that "mainstream views and publications are a very small part of the spectrum of thought, but they are given an inordinate amount of space and resources."
  • She sees zines as a means of outreach to those who don't use libraries, and "find nothing in the mainstream that reflects their reality."

    Starting with a budget of less than a thousand dollars, Bartel created both a collection and programming that significantly raised the coolness quotient of the library among young adults and attracted a broad range of new users, including zine creators.

    There are a lot of thorny issues involved in deliberately selecting materials that lack the "authority and respectability of the established press," and that may be amateurish, highly personal, financially unstable, tasteless, in-your-face, or politically and socially controversial. Zines are not good reading material for the faint of heart, she says; "they're honest and raw and include language and subjects and graphics that many will find offensive." She says you need to recognize this from the beginning, discuss the controversial nature of the content in your proposal, make sure your library's selection policy defends a wide range of voices and opinion, and monitor the collection carefully for content that strays across the borders of legality.

    Zines present other challenges to our traditional ways of doing things. We can't argue that there's a demand for them, because their potential readers don't even know the zines exist. Since traditional review sources don't deal with them, finding out about them is a challenge for us as well, and, dauntingly, the only authority we have to fall back on in selection may be our own judgment. Many zines lack ISSNs and cataloging records, which makes it difficult to create subject access to them and integrate them into the collection -- and yet, if we keep zines separate we suggest they are second-class citizens. Because zines are often shoestring operations, there's no guarantee or even likelihood that volume 1 number 1 will be followed by volume 1 number 2, which will drive serials librarians nuts. Even paying for them can be a challenge, since zine creators are often not particularly businesslike. Bartel draws on her own experience to suggest ways of dealing with these and other issues.

    Making people aware that a zine collection exists requires identifying potential readers, tailoring the marketing message and graphic design to each segment of the audience, and then going outside the traditional marketing channels to reach them -- to dance clubs, coffee houses, colleges, galleries, music stores, and such. She illustrates with techniques that worked for her own library.

    Perhaps the most interesting part of her book is her accounts of successful programming around zines. Her first program was a do-it-yourself workshop for would-be zine publishers. That was so well-received that she took the workshop into the schools, which resulted in some high level creative work by enthusiastic kids. She did similar work with community partners like the Job Corps and an organization for homeless youth. Other natural outgrowths were public readings, video zines, and a youth talent show.

    What's at the heart of all Bartel's zine activities, though, is her desire to change the perception of libraries. After finishing this book, you can't doubt that she succeeded in this, drawing hundreds of new users to the Salt Lake City library. Her book offers excellent guidelines on how you could do the same in your own if you so chose.

    Which seems to me to be a good idea. One thing that talk radio and the internet have shown us is that just because the top-down, we-talk-you-listen model has dominated education, broadcasting and publishing, that doesn't mean we prefer it. Instead of passively sitting and listening to received wisdom, we want to contribute our own. We want a conversation, not a lecture.

    What have you done in your library to give people a chance to participate, to talk back?

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    The mainstream has the potential to self-pollinate to the point of monoculture. Maintenance of intellectual diversity is as crucial to our survival and happiness as that of genetic and ecological diversity.

    Cheryl Zobel. "Zines in Public Libraries." Counterpoise 3 no. 2 (April, 1999), p. 5.

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    You are welcome to copy and forward any of my own articles for noncommercial purposes (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you retain this copyright statement:

    Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
    Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2004.

    [Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]

    Please do NOT copy and post my articles to your own web sites, however. Instead, please copy a brief excerpt and link to my site for the remainder of the article.