In Notes from Underground, Stephen Duncombe describes fanzines (also known as "zines") as "noncommercial, nonprofessional, small-circulation magazines which their creators produce, publish, and distribute by themselves" (6). In other words, zines are personal publications produced by everyday people. Zinesters write about any and everything that interests them-- politics, culture, art and music, or personal experiences, just to name a few topics. While many contemporary zines exist on the Web in electronic form (e-zines), print zines continue to be collected by zine communities and libraries worldwide.
The Listening Center at the Music Library and Bill Schurk Sound Archives (ML/BSSA) houses a substantial collection of fanzines related to popular music. These zines cover many different genres such as punk rock, folk music, pop music, and extreme metal. Zines often contain record reviews, artist interviews, and live show reviews. Many zines document the habits of tech hobbyists or the activities of an underground music scene.
Because of the highly personal nature of zine writing, fanzines typically are not upheld as traditional, academic sources. However, their true value is not in the factual accuracy of their articles; rather, zines are important academic sources because they document the lives and opinions of music fans. To scholars of popular music, fanzines are a valuable source for determining how people make use of popular music in their everyday lives.
Click the tabs of the LibGuide to learn more about zines and the ML/BSSA fanzine collection!
This guide was created by Rebekah Burchfield, graduate of the Ph.D. program in American Culture Studies and former ML/BSSA graduate assistant.