Interview with Long Beach Zine Librarian Ziba Zehdar

When did you start reading and making zines? What other zines or art forms served as influence or inspiration?
I started reading zines in high school (the mid-to late nineties) but I didn’t start making zines until 2012 for the 1st Los Angeles Zine Fest! Luna in Tuna zine by my high school friend Reena Rosales served as inspiration to make my 1st. To find my zine voice at my first attempts at zine making (Zebraradar Zine Vol. 1 & 2) I was influenced by scrap-booking! I literally just took my favorite pages from my scrapbook of three years and digitized them to then print them out as zines. 

You curate the Long Beach Public Library Zine collection, co-organize the Long Beach Zine Fest, and also self-publish your own zines. Why have you chosen to dedicate so much of your time to the zine form?
I first exhibited as a zinester at LA Zine Fest 2012 as one of the ‘Three Amigos Press‘, the other two being Reena from Luna in Tuna and Simon from Ghost Ghost Teeth (all friends since high school in Long Beach Poly High.) In the last four years since first ever exhibiting at a zine fest, I have gradually become more and more active in zine life. I have found that it is such a rewarding community to be a part of that I have never turned back!

In a recent interview we did with Jon-O, he mentioned that you have gotten the Long Beach Public Library System to start carrying zines, with the goal to have the circulating collection become the largest west of the Mississippi. That’s amazing! How did this come about? Could you briefly walk us through the process?
Yes! I was on a trip in Salt Lake City, Utah a couple years back when I came across their circulating zine collection which they said was the largest one in a public library west of the Mississippi! I thought, wow, why don’t we have something like this in Southern California?! I then took it to my public library system where I worked as an Adult Services Librarian at the time and proposed a collection which they politely declined, but luckily my new system as of last year (Long Beach Public Library where I am Department Librarian of Community Services) was already on board to create a zine library and I came in right on time to help launch it #LBPLZineLibrary!

Ziba & The Long Beach Public Library Zine Library

While zines have grown in popularity and profile recently, they are often misunderstood or overlooked in many settings. What advice would you have to offer to other librarians or art educators who wanted to incorporate zines into their libraries or courses?
My advice to you is to check out zinelibraries.info. This group of zine librarians from around the world have been very supportive to my inquiries of best practices and they put together a zine pavilion at every American Library Association (ALA) conference that exposes zine libraries to librarians that may not be familiar with the possibility of having circulating zines in their own public library system. I first found them in 2008 at the ALA conference in Anaheim before LA Zine Fest even existed! This had me very excited to participate as an exhibitor in LA Zine Fest’s first annual festival in 2012 and many years later in 2015 to have my own circulating zine library at the public library system I work in, finally!!

As one of the organizers of The Long Beach Zine Fest (LBZF), what were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome in staging such an event? Do you have any advice or suggestions for anyone who wanted to organize their own zine fair? Where should zinesters mail their work for consideration in the Long Beach Public Library collection?
This was the first year I was invited to co-organize LBZF. This year I was one of 12 organizers. From my first time as an organizer I observed that selecting the zinesters to exhibit can be one of the most challenging parts. Over 200 applied and only about 100 can fit in the physical space we have been using at the Museum of Latin American Art to run the event. My advice to anyone wanting to organize their own zine fair is to give every plenty of notice on when to apply and how long the window will be open to apply. Also, to Keep your exhibitors as diverse and local as possible. Yes I would love donations to my zine library to be sent to the LBPL Main Library: 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, CA 90822 c/o Ziba Z. Zine Librarian!

#LBPLZinelibrary at the Long Beach Zine Festival

There seems to be a resurgence of interest in fanzines and the small press in general as of late. Being a curator who sees a lot of different types of zines, have you noticed any emerging trends or patterns in regards to tone or form? From our vantage point, Southern California seems like a focal point for zine and d.i.y. culture. Have you found the broader community to be supportive of your zine projects and initiatives?
I have not noticed any emerging trends or patterns in regard to tone or form. They seem to be a very diverse group of zines coming in, anything from photo zines to instructional zines to political zines to personal zines and beyond! Yes I have found the broader community to be supportive of my zine projects and initiatives. UCI Zine fest happened for the first time last year in 2015 on their University campus in Orange County and zines are being assigned as homework for classes on that campus (my alma mater and former place of employment.) I’m impressed with the work academic libraries in general have been doing on collecting zines for their archives and special collections nation wide!

What other zine related projects are you currently working on?
Currently I, along with my co-author and fiancé Jon-o, am working on ZebraPizza Vol.8 which will be released in time for OC Zine Fest 2016 July 24th. ZebraPizza Vol.8 will consist of photos/stories from our upcoming travels to Toronto, Canada and Portland, Oregon (going to exhibit ZebraPizza Vol.1-7 with Jon-o at the 2016 Portland Zine Symposium July 9th!) this and next month. Almost half of our volumes are currently digitized for your viewing pleasure here:

Ziba Perez Zehdar is a Community Services Department Librarian at the Main Library of the Long Beach Public Library system. Ziba attended graduate school at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, receiving a Master of Science in Library and Information Science (2012.)  In graduate school, Ziba received a certificate of specialization in archives and special collections while interning at the American Film Institute’s Louis B. Mayer Library Special Collections and the UC Irvine Special Collections & Archives. Ziba is now also a co-organizer of Long Beach Zine Fest and curator of the Long Beach Public Library Zine Library. #LBPLZineLibrary

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