Follow-Up: The Río Hondo College Library Zine Outreach Project

By Claudia Rivas, Río Hondo College

As announced in the September 2023 Outlook Newsletter, Librarian Claudia Rivas began implementing her proposed Zine Outreach Project last fall, as approved and grant funded by UCLA (California Rare Book School’s Radical Librarianship Institute) via the Mellon Foundation.

Zine Fest

As proposed, Claudia spearheaded the launch of Río Hondo College (RHC) Library's first-ever Zine Fest which took place over two days in October 2023. Each day featured a line-up of stellar panelists—zinesters and artists/authors in their own right—each of whom presented for 15 minutes, speaking of their history as creators of zines, including their inspirations, passions, and process, and shared why everyone should make zines.

 Zine Fest: Day 1 panelists (in order of presentation): Sam Pocker who specializes in zines set in fast food restaurants (@fastfoodlegendofficial), Tori Holder whose focus is on comics and her art (@thattorih), Erwin Recinos who has extensive experience in black and white photography but also makes mixed media zines (@_losojos_), Rocio Magadan whose zines touch on her daily life and experiences especially as it pertains to music (@heartofsteel_), and Lorenzo Diggins of colour bloc creativ whose zines highlight his illustrations, photography, as well as mixed media (@colourbloccreativ)
Social media image with lineup of presenters and their area of focus, for Day 1 of Zine Fest at RHC Library. Created by Claudia Rivas using Adobe Express. All photographs used with permission by subject.

The Zine Fest was held inside RHC Library, where each presenter had a table to display and sell their work. After presentations concluded, there was time for attendees to browse the tables and speak with presenters. Since attendees were allowed to come and go as they pleased within a three-hour allotted time each day, there is no accurate count for attendance, but each day was well attended thanks to the support of RHC faculty who brought entire classes to the event. Even though the Zine Fest was made possible with grant funding, its success was thanks to cooperation from colleagues, including the collaborative support of RHC Library staff, faculty, and administration.


The main purpose of the Zine Fest was to educate the RHC community about zines and the people who make zines (a.k.a., zinesters). It was also meant to serve as an inspiration point; Claudia’s vision was that by listening to presenters and viewing their work, RHC students, staff, faculty, and administrators would be inspired to make their own zines and contribute them to the RHC Library Zine Collection.

Prior to the Zine Fest, the RHCL Zine Collection held roughly 80 zines predominantly created by folks outside the RHC community, either obtained via donation or purchased through Etsy and other online retailers as well as at events and bookstores. In other words, the number of zines made by RHC community members was relatively small, and as such, the aim of the Zine Outreach Project was—and continues to be—to “flip” the collection so that the dominant contributions are made by the RHC community.


Following the Zine Fest, to foster the goal of the Zine Outreach Project, Claudia led a series of workshops, including access to free materials, geared towards students but open to all of the RHC community. The first series of workshops, six total in October, included a presentation on a brief history of zines, what they are and why they are important, an overview of library resources related to zines, and a demonstration on how to make a mini zine and a booklet. The workshops included enough time to begin planning a zine or to make one. A second series of six workshops in November omitted the presentation and instruction components but rather were intended as a “drop-in” style where anyone could work on a zine with the supplies provided, get help, and/or ask questions about zines. A final, third series of six workshops in November and December also included time to work on and finish zines, but additionally served as an opportunity for those who had completed their zine(s) to make copies and catalog their zine(s) before donating them to the RHC Library Zine Collection.

Because community engagement was an important part of the project, Claudia collaborated with Whittier Public Library Teen Librarian Monica Roman to involve teens from the greater Whittier community in zine-making, too. Monica graciously hosted four zine workshops at the Whittier Public Library’s Central Branch on behalf of RHC Library, partly in the hopes of obtaining more zine donations for the collection at RHC Library. Two workshops in October had 13 teen patrons attend, and two in November had 18 participants, including a few repeat visitors.


Participants who completed and donated a zine to the RHC Library Zine Collection were asked to catalog their work via an online form created and developed by Claudia, and which took into account feedback provided by Dez Alaniz, an RHC Library Zine Fest presenter/zinester as well as a professional librarian/archivist; and also Cypress College Librarian and zinester Annette Young, who initiated a zine collection during her time at Chaffey College. Through regular feedback, along with trial and error, the cataloging form underwent many changes over several months, becoming more and more refined.

The form provides permissions for RHC Library on what can or cannot be done with a zine that is donated to the collection, but it also serves as a learning tool by which those donating their zines become more familiar with library cataloging. Having zine creators catalog their own work places the cataloging power in their hands, so to speak, as they provide the description, keywords, categories, and dimensions as related to their zine(s). Contributors’ responses serve as the stepping stone to do original catalog work for the zines in the RHC Library collection where the voice of the creator is the primary guide.

Funding, and Participation

Roughly half of the grant funding for the Zine Outreach Project went towards the Zine Fest presenters honoraria, food for the event, and a high resolution scanner; the remaining half was intended to primarily be used as stipends for students and/or RHC community members who made and contributed zines to the RHC Library Zine Collection. Originally, a stipend of $25 was offered per student for making and donating one zine to the Library’s collection, in the hopes that 100+ students would participate.

There were 38 students who attended the Zine Fest and expressed interest or intention in participation in the Zine Outreach Project in order to receive a stipend. In October’s workshops, a total of 35 students attended workshops and in the second series of workshops, 18 students attended. At that point, because only a small number of zines had been created and donated to the collection, Claudia increased the stipend to a limit of $100 per participant, allowing participants to donate up to four zines at a time (i.e., $25 each). For the final series of workshops, 21 students attended. At the conclusion of the Fall 2023 semester, a total of 15
RHC students had completed and donated zines to the Library’s collection.

Of Whittier Public Library’s 17 total attendees, two made and submitted a zine for a stipend.

Extension, and Workshops (Again)

One silver lining around a delay in funding was an extension for project completion. Originally, the project's final report was due in July 2024, but because of the delay, California Rare Book School extended the deadline to nine months from the funding date (i.e., November 2024). This was welcome news as much of the grant money intended as stipends for participants in the project remained unspent. So, with a new semester, Claudia could make a renewed effort to continue offering zine workshops towards this primary purpose.

As such, for Spring 2024, four workshops were offered in February and March, and another four workshops were offered in April and May, again with the same, revised stipend (i.e., $100 max per participant). This meant that those who had made only one zine in the fall could potentially make another three for the RHCL Zine Collection in the spring. Eleven total students attended the February and March workshops, and eleven attended in April. Claudia has yet to see what the last workshop, scheduled in May, will bring. As of today, five additional students have donated zines to the RHC Library Zine Collection. In total, approximately 50 zines have been added to the collection, all the result of the Zine Outreach Project.

Final Project—And What's Next

A requirement of the project grant will have all the zine productions reprinted in a commemorative monograph documenting the project and its outcomes. For those that granted permission, each zine donated for the project has been scanned with an Epson Perfection V600 Photo scanner at 300 DPI. These images are being produced for the commemorative anthology, but they will also be made available in RHC Library’s Digital Zine Collection, which is accessible to any user. A physical copy of each zine has also been acquired for RHC Library's Archives, based on each creator’s preference.

RHC Library's goal for the current zine collection is to catalog, barcode, and circulate as many zines as possible to spread the stories, joy, creativity, heart, and hard work of the creators. Although participation was not as high as was hoped or anticipated, every person who participated in the zine-making workshops expressed how much they enjoyed the process and felt a sense of pride about what they created; but better yet, all were happy to share their work and stories through this library in our corner of the world. For this reason, and many others, there is great value in hosting zine collections in community college libraries, where students can not only experience and learn from the stories of others, but more importantly, contribute their own often overlooked and unheard stories.