Indigenous Zines and Academic Libraries


Indigenous zines share the stories and artwork of Indigenous creators through their own voices, and resist the colonial frameworks of mainstream media that attempt to erase Indigenous identities. The purpose of this zine is to introduce academic librarians and LIS students to Indigenous zines, and inform readers how including Indigenous zines within library collections can provide relatable content, supplement collections, and add unique primary sources. This zine also identifies ways to utilize Indigenous zines in information literacy sessions, and offers points to consider when choosing to add Indigenous zines to library collections.

Zines are self-published magazines, created by hand or digitally, and distributed on a small scale. They contain essays, diary entries, comics, drawings, poetry, images, and various forms of self-expression (Duncombe, 1997). Self-publication and independent distribution makes zines a suitable media for communities whose interests and identities are ignored by or stereotyped in mainstream media, as a way to share their experiences and control how they are represented (Honma, 2016). In this way, zines are used for self-expression, networking, and community-building (Bold, 2017). Communities and fans of niche or alternative topics have been creating zines since the 1930s, and Indigenous zines were created as early as the 1980s (Goodluck, 2020). Though zines are not typically considered a “scholarly” source, some libraries choose to maintain zine collections based around the institution’s focus (e.g. gender studies, graphic design, Indigenous studies), or to supplement existing library collections. 

            Indigenous zines are one of many categories of zines, and provide a space for Indigenous narratives and perspectives. Kalen Goodluck (2020) describes Indigenous zines as “harness[ing] personal and historical accounts, artistic and poetic techniques, in a world that has traditionally erased them” (para. 9). Mainstream media is built around colonial frameworks, and perpetuates colonial ideas and stereotypes; Indigenous zines resist these attempts to erase Indigenous histories, narratives, and identities, celebrating Indigenous culture through various forms of artistic and written expression. Indigenous zines vary in topic, purpose, and audience, including feminism, parenting, environmental activism, educating allies, social and political commentary, and numerous other subjects. 

            Indigenous zines add diverse voices to collections and can begin to fill gaps created by mainstream media censorship and the exclusion of Indigenous voices and perspectives from academic publications and scholarly discourse. Because zines are not created for use in academic institutions, this zine discusses some considerations for adding Indigenous zines to library collections with care. This includes acquiring zines from “distros” (distribution centres) or the “zinesters” (zine creators) themselves, cataloguing zines using only the information found within the zine, and carefully evaluating how or if subject headings should be used. As an introduction, this zine is a starting point for readers to explore Indigenous zines and academic libraries. The included zines, resources, and references allow readers to continue to learn about Indigenous zines and how they can be included and utilized within academic library collections.

Indigenous Zines & Academic Libraries


Barton, J., & Olson, P. (2019). Cite first, ask questions later? Toward an ethic of zines and zinesters in libraries and research. The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, 113(2), 205-216.

Berthoud, H. (2018). My life as a “like-minded misfit,” or, experiences in zine librarianship. Serials Review, 44(1), 4-12.

Bold, M. R. (2017). Why diverse zines matter: A case study of the People of Color Zines Project. Publishing Research Quarterly, 33, 215-228.

Botimer, C., & Peach, A. (2017). Preserving passion: The zine collection at Hutchins Library. Kentucky Libraries, 81(4), 13-16.

Collingwood, R., & Kassir, L. (2018). Gathering the margins: The London College of Communication Library zine collection. Art Libraries Journal, 43(2), 82-87.

Doyle, A. M., Lawson, K., & Dupont, S. (2015). Indigenization of Knowledge organization at the Xwi7xwa Library, Journal of Library and Information Studies, 13(2), 107-134.

Duncombe, S. (1997). Notes from underground. London: Verso.

Gardner, J. (2009). Zines in the academic library: A literature review. Library Student Journal, 4,

Gisonny, K., & Freedman, J. (2005). Zines in libraries: How, what and why?. Collection Building, 25(1), 26-30.

Goodluck, K. (2020, January 30). Indigenous zines elevate authenticity: the craft’s lack of limitation allows for powerful storytelling. High Country News.

Honma, T. (2016). From archives to action: Zines, participatory culture, and community engagement in Asian America. Radical Teacher, 105, 33-43.

Koh, R. (2008). Alternative literature in libraries: The unseen zine. Collection Building, 27(2), 48-51.

Lee, D. (2019). Research and Indigenous librarianship in Canada. Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship, 5, 1-22.

Lee, D. A. (2001). Aboriginal students in Canada: A case study of their academic information needs and library use. Journal of Library Administration, 33(3-4), 259-292.

Littletree, S., & Metoyer, C. A. (2015). Knowledge organization from an Indigenous perspective: The Mashantucket Pequot Thesaurus of American Indian Terminology Project, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 53(5-6), 640-657.

Stoddart, R. A., & Kiser, T. (2004). Zines and the library. Library Resources & Technical Services, 48(3), 191- 198.

Thomas, S. (2018). Zines for teaching: A survey of pedagogy and implications for academic librarians. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 18(4), 737-758.

yəhaw̓ Collective. (n.d.). ʤə́ kʼʷ Zines. Yehaw.

Zine Librarians Interest Group. (2015). Zine librarians code of ethics.

Featured Zines

Arson. (2007). Property and law are born together and die together [zine].

Aubin, S. (2020). Unlearning design: A decolonizing & inclusivity toolkit [zine].

Indigenous Action. (n.d.). Film the police! And know your rights! A pocket ‘zine [zine].

Indige-zine. (2018). Decolonize Love [zine] 4.

Intoexistencezine. (2020). Into existence: Break [zine].

IPMP. (2020). The Indigenous experience of 2020 [zine].

Joan, K. (n.d.). Together apart zine: Trickster [zine] 7.

Nehemiah. (2017). Black Indigenous boy [zine].

Queer Indigenous Girl. (2017). Liberation [zine] 4.

RISEdmonton. (2017). RISEZINE: Youth & Reconciliation [zine] 2.

Warrior Publications. (2014). Defend the territory: Tactics and techniques for countering police assaults on Indigenous communities [zine].

Wet’suwet’en Nation. (n.d.). Heal the People, heal the Land: Unist’ot’en Camp [zine].

yəhaw̓. (2019b). ʤə́ kʼʷ: An Indigenous art zine [zine] 1.

Rynnelle Wiebe:

Rynnelle Wiebe (She/her) is of German-settler descent, and currently lives in amiskwacîwâskahikan, what is now known as Edmonton. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, and is currently an MLIS student at the University of Alberta. Her LIS interests change often, but currently relate to accessibility, information literacy, and community.