It’s time to decide the future of the Fly Away Zine Mobile

Dear Fly Away Zine Mobile community and friends,

Half a year ago, as a step towards honoring a call to seek more stillness in my life (for my health and spirit), I sent an email soliciting ideas for the next phase of the zine mobile. The email sparked supportive and inspiring conversations, and I intended to follow up with more focus and specificity, but the overwhelm I’ve felt in some aspects of my life has left me moving slowly. Please accept my humble apology for this delay, which has left the zine mobile out of circulation for so long. And most of all, please accept the gratitude I have for all of you who have been a part (and might be a part going forward) of the zine mobile’s story.

Please share the call below if/as you are moved (friends, organizations, lists, etc.), but please do not email ideas or suggestions that require me to follow up, as I don’t have the energy to do that. (In other words, I ask that only those interested in taking on the zine mobile and/or collection themselves respond, rather than those with ideas for places to which I might want to reach out.)

While this is a call for new curator(s)/caretaker(s) to take on the next life of a project that I started, I am open to the zine mobile coming to an end if that is the future that awaits it; I just want to give folks the chance to breathe their own vision into it and be at its helm if they so desire.


debbie (zine mobile caretaker)


(Free to a good home! The zine mobile and its library – together or separate!)

After two years and 30,000 miles driving (in spurts) across North America, I’m looking to donate the Fly Away Zine Mobile to a new caretaking/curating individual or team. Read here to find out more about the zine mobile if you aren’t familiar with it and read below for more details on the possibility of handing off the zine mobile torch.

The priority is to pass the zine mobile along (whether it continues to go by that name or a name chosen by its new caretaker/s) to a person or people who will maintain its focus as a project somehow related to reading and writing (though ideas for a non-literary project will be considered as well, so if you have such a vision, please feel encouraged to respond).

There is flexibility around the zine mobile and zines staying together or separating. If you are envisioning a project involving the zine mobile that doesn’t focus on zines or the zine library, the zines can be donated elsewhere. Likewise, if you are envisioning a project that involves the zine library, the zine mobile can be donated elsewhere. There is also flexibility about utilizing the van as a mobile space or as a parked/unmoving space (reading room, museum, etc.)—particularly since it’s getting older and requires a lot of gas to keep running.

Up until this point, my priorities as a caretaker/curator have been to feature zines about healing/wellness, do-it-yourself/resource zines, and zines about prisons and/or by prisoners. You don’t need to feel beholden to curating and caretaking the zine mobile in the same manner and style that I did. I am receptive to (and excited about) other visions and ideas. I encourage you to use your imaginations in terms of moving forward – the shape of this moving forward is open and fluid.

My one request if the zine mobile does continue is that the future person or team maintains the commitment of keeping access to it free of charge — in the interest of getting information and materials into the hands of those that need it. (For example, allowing an opportunity for participants accessing the zine mobile to donate to the project is along the lines of the “keep it free” vision, while requiring money from people to participate is not.)

VEHICLE  DETAILS (a quick internet search of ‘Fly Away Zine Mobile’ will yield many photos)

1997 automatic chevy astro conversion midsize van (the size is midway between a mini van and a full-size van)

Please realize, since the vehicle is 16 years old, it has some quirks and weirdness one would expect for an aging vehicle; the bottom has rust from spending its first 13 years in Minnesota. It’s also not great on gas (16-17 miles to the gallon). That said, it’s received regular upkeep/maintenance and up until this point has been incredibly reliable, not presenting any major problems. Relatively speaking, it’s also low mileage (130,000). The inside is extremely cozy with lots of small wooden cabinets, track and overhead lighting, and a back couch that folds down for sleeping. When the zine mobile was circulating, the two middle seats were removed to make space for a small reading room. Those seats have been put back, so you can keep them in or remove them. With all chairs in place, it seats seven people with seatbelts.


I’m passing the zine mobile along for free, not selling it, though there will be a minimal cost for transferring the title/registration (I believe this will be about $150)

Main cost: insurance = about $400/year, depending on your driving record

Registration renewal/license tabs is about $50 a year

(Insurance and vehicle registration won’t apply if the zine mobile will be used in a parked/stationary way).

The zine mobile is currently located in Madison, Wisconsin. Arrangements could possibly made to get the vehicle somewhere else.


Is comprised of approximately 1,800 zines, broken down into these categories.

Please note the use of unconventional categorizing; most are categorized by topic, but some are categorized by size or format (e.g., little zines and newsprint). The zines have not been cataloged, and there is currently a backlog of uncategorized zines.

If you are interested, please email by February 1, 2014, with answers to the following questions:

1. Are you interested in the van and zines together or separate?

2. What is your vision for how you’d like to caretake/utilize/curate or otherwise use the zine mobile and/or the zine library? Please include whether you see the zine mobile circulating locally/nationally or parked/retired as a reading room/museum, etc., and whether you envision using the zine mobile in a shared manner (among several projects/curators) or if you anticipate using it for a singular project.

* You don’t need to spell out every detail or make it lengthy; in fact, as a general guideline, aim for somewhere around 350 words or less).

After receiving replies, I’ll form a small committee with some folks who’ve been involved with the zine mobile who will discuss and decide its fate. I aim for the committee to reach this decision by mid-February.

I look forward to hearing from you!

In collaboration,

debbie (zine mobile caretaker)



Twin Cities Zinefest this weekend!

Source:  City Pages Blog

While the newspaper and book industries are floundering, the self-publishing world of zines appears to be flourishing. The Twin Cities Zine Fest, now in its ninth year, will demonstrate exactly why this is at its daylong showcase of the art form. The event brings in over 60 exhibitors who will welcome guests to shop, trade, and chat with local DIY artists. Do you make your own zines? If you didn’t sign up for a table in time, bring one to share at the free pop-up booth. There will also be demonstrations and info on screen printing for cheap, a release celebration for the Twin Cities Zinefest Encyclopedia, a children’s table, and the Fly Away Zine Mobile, a 1997 Chevy Astro that functions as a free library/skill share boasting over 1,000 zines and a few musical instruments (ukelele anyone?) available to borrow. The festival kicks off on Friday night at a pre-party at Boneshaker Books (2002 23rd Ave. S., Minneapolis), where from 6 to 9 p.m. guests can read zines, enjoy vegan snacks from Josh Ploeg, and meet with fellow enthusiasts. For more info, visit — By Jessica Armbruster

Price: free

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Interviews the Zine Mobile!!!!

Huge thanks to Jude Vachon, Librarian and Instructor at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, for the interview. Tried to reblog it properly, but that wouldn’t work, so copied and pasted below. Please find the original HERE!

1. Hi! Tell us who you are! What’s the Fly Away Zine Mobile?

Hi! I’m debbie rasmussen, driver and curator of the Fly Away Zine Mobile. The zine mobile is a free lending library, self-publishing skill-sharer, and mini reading room that travels around North America, organizing/supporting events around literacy and self-publishing and hosting open library/reading hours. There are currently about 1,500 zines in the collection; current sections include Do-It-Yourself/How-To; Healing and Wellness; Prisons/By Prisoners; Personal/Autobiographical; Comics/Drawings; Cooking/Food; Field Guides/Place-Related; Political; Parenting; Zines by Kids; Poetry; Librarian-Made Zines; and Animal-Related Zines. The lending policy is loose; I try to let people keep things if they want while also preserving a solid chunk of the collection (people are always excited to donate their zines, and/or sometimes their whole zine collection, so this has been easy). The zine mobile’s current form is a 1997 Chevy Astro Van, but I’ve been on the lookout for a larger vehicle that runs on diesel so it can be converted to run on waste veggie oil.

2. When did you start the project? Why did you start the project?

I started dreaming of a traveling self-publishing library/skill-sharer when I was on my way out at Bitch Magazine, where I was working as publisher/director. It was partly a way to realize a lifelong dream of living/working mobile and partly a way to encourage/inspire people to express themselves without waiting for acceptance or approval from, say a magazine or book publisher. Our acceptance rate of article proposals at Bitch was around 10% (so 90% of what people were submitting to us was rejected), which was common for magazines. I’d submitted an article proposal to Bitch myself when I was in grad school, and was rejected, so I knew firsthand how discouraging it could be!

What finally helped get the project out of my head and into the world were librarians Jenna Freedman, who invited me along on a librarian-zinester tour and Lacey Prpic Hedtke, who was starting a garage-based zine library in Minneapolis and who donated all the duplicates to the zine mobile project. The zine mobile was officially launched in Minneapolis in May 2011, and it had its first voyage the next month — three librarians and I met in New Orleans at the American Library Association Conference, and did a 9-city zinester librarian tour that ended in Milwaukee, at the Zine Librarians Unconference. I didn’t realize until that tour was over how fortunate I was that the zine mobile was really positioned as a legitimate library because of this original journey.

3. How has the project been for you to do? What have you learned/enjoyed/experienced??

I love living on the road — it’s been a dream of mine since I was little, when I wanted to be a trucker. People have been encouraging, enthusiastic, and generous in their support for the project, which has helped keep me going. What’s been the most challenging — and I never would’ve expected this when I set out on the road — is the amount of aggression aimed at me while on the road. I drive fairly slow — for reasons of safety, to minimize gas consumption, and because it’s the pace of life I’m looking to live now — and people often express their frustration with me about this. And I’d say the other biggest challenge is that the zines world is, relatively speaking, pretty small, so I spend a lot of energy/time explaining what zines are, and sometimes that feels discouraging and tiring. Of the many highlights was the first youth-centered zine-making event I did. I was way more accustomed to doing zine workshops with adults, so when a public library in Oakland asked me to come, I was very nervous. I’d asked a friend who was much more accustomed to working with kids to join me, but at the last minute, she couldn’t make it. I almost canceled because I was so nervous. But about three minutes after the event started, I was totally at ease because I immediately realized that one amazing thing about working with young ones is that they don’t have the same perfectionistic expectations that many of us adults do — they were so happy to be making something, they didn’t care if they cut crooked or colored outside the lines. There was a table full of young kids with their moms, and I kept getting teary-eyed because I was just so moved and excited about their process and what they were creating.

4. Why are zines important to you?

Self-expression is important to me, no matter what form that expression takes. I’ve always been deeply moved by both reading and writing, so zines were an obvious focus for my attention, but to me the idea that everyone is an artist, a creator, a writer, whatever… is really important. As much as my own personal expression has gone largely digital (I think, because I move around so much now, it’s difficult for me to do print — every time I’ve started a zine in recent years, I’ve lost the pieces before I’ve finished!), my heart is still in print, and I don’t imagine that ever changing.

5. Tell us anything you feel moved to!

The zine mobile is intended to be part of an emerging traveling caravan that seeks to support and create free skill-sharing and community-building — by free I mean trying to challenge the way we’re so conditioned to commodify everything, to buy and sell… The idea is that there would be several mobiles traveling together — perhaps some focused on food, some focused on things like dance/movement and music, some focused on radical education and/or community organizing — everything free (donations accepted, but not expected — and really trying to emphasize donations of things that are not just money — just offers of food and/or a place to stay). My hope is that someone super passionate about zines as a form of personal expression will step forward and want to take over this piece so that I can move into doing something focused on music and sound.
I’d also like to offer a huge THANK YOU for your interest in spreading the word about this project!

Thank YOU, amazing Debbie!

– Jude

like a little bear cub…

the zine mobile’s been sorta hibernating…

emerging in real life, maaaaaybe in online life…

this friday, March 9th, we’ll be at Actual Cafe in Oakland for the opening of Paper Trails: a zine show hosted by Rock Paper Scissors Collective in collaboration with Tomas Moniz of Rad Dad

6pm-10pm open library hours outside!  Inside will be readings and music and another zine library and a zine-making station!  Funnnnnn…


posts with no photos are kinda boring, no? here are some much-beloved zines donated to the zine mobile lately!



Oakland general strike

The zine mobile will be parked near the main Oakland public library today with open library and reading room hours in support of the general strike… We’ll also be joining the family/bike/stroller brigade at noon, marching from the library to Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza… and the Disability & Seniors Action Brigade at 2, which will consist of a short march, sit-in, and teach-in (meet @ North/right side of cityhall).

See you there?