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!



West Coast Port Shutdown

tomorrow, 12/12, in support of the west coast port shutdown, the zine mobile will serve as a branch of the Occupy/Decolonize Oakland Library. there’s also gonna be a BOOKS ON BIKES BRIGADE!

Here’s where we’ll be — any other updates throughout the day will be posted on twitter ; )

5:30am First march from West Oakland BART to port

:: 11am – 3pm Activities, workshops, speakers, teach-ins at Ogawa/Grant Plaza ::

3:00pm Rally at Ogawa/Grant Plaza

4:00pm Second march from West Oakland BART to port

5:00 pm Third march from West Oakland BART to port

See you there?  Also accepting encouragements and well wishes to pass along from those of you far away!

And hey, do you read this zine?  it’s so good!  it’s one of the only ones i know that provides accessible honest information on our economic system. there’s a companion blog, too!



Oakland + kids + zines!!

Yesterday was the zine mobile’s first youth-centered event — I parked outside the downtown Oakland Public Library and opened the zine mobile for reading room/library hours… inside we set up a table for zine-making. I brought two typewriters and the library had lots of awesome stamps and kids’ books bound for the recycling bin for clip art.

I feel I should confess that I was really nervous; the age group I tend to feel most comfortable around is at the other end of the age spectrum! But after some reassurance from lovely librarian Amy Martin (who set the whole thing up; thank you Amy!!!!!) and spending a few minutes with the kiddos, my anxiety vanished and I didn’t want the day to end, it was so fun and inspiring…

Some pix of what was created:

One little guy was so excited about the typewriter and asked if he could work on his novel and movie script!!

And thanks to dear friend and OPL teen librarian Amy Sonnie for bringing OPL’s teen zine collection for the afternoon!

Oakland Public Library's teen zine collection

Yay kids!!!!  The zine mobile is (more) ready for you : )

musical zine mobile!

Friends of the zine mobile!  I’ve been rambling all about this in the zine mobile’s real life, but realize I’ve neglected to mention it in its online life: Along with nearly 1,000 zines that can be checked out (and/or taken for keeps from the free box!), the zine mobile also has a collection of small musical instruments for gentle use and borrowing!  We had our first instrument check out and first donation in the same day (it happened to be the same person, but you don’t have to donate something to borrow something)!

The current collection includes:

  • Ukulele
  • Glockenspiel
  • Melodica
  • Flute
  • Tambourine
  • Egg shakers (our first donated instrument!)
  • Kazoos 😉
  • Pom poms and other hand percussion

We’d love more instruments donated to the collection — we just ask that they be in good condition, and — at this point because of space constraints — that they be SMALL!! We’d also love more how-to/resource music zines!!

original zine rainbow

Zines that were in the rainbow section listed below…

! ! ! r a i n b o w ! ! !


–       Rat Skull

–       Xtra Tuf No. 5: The Strike Issue

–       The Anarchist Tension

–       When Language Runs Dry: A zine for people with chronic pain and their allies

–       Kyle Like by MC P Pants & Pseudo Spy Master

–       Stolen Sharpie Revolution

–       An Anarchist Critique of Capitalist Globalization

–       Anarchist Moralisty

–       Residue Comics #8

–       Sugar Low/ Sugar High

–       Two speeches by Malcom X

–       Days of War Nights of Love the Bootleg

–       Flowers for Algebra #1

–       Herbivore #13

–       The Failure of Christianity by Emma Goldman

–       Anarchism: The Feminist Connection

–       Surrenderrr Dorothyyyy

–       Fuck Specialists and fucking paying for shit do it yrself… D.I.Y. “How To” Guide

–       Greenzine #14

–       Show me the Money!

–       Cereal Boxes and Milkcrates Zine Libraries and Infoshops are… NOW

–       What I do When You’re Not Looking

–       Girl Talk Volume One

–       Free To Choose: A Women’s Guide to Reproductive Freedom

–       Zapatistas: In Their Own Words

–       28 Pages Lovingly Bound with Twine # 5

–       Xerography Debt Issue #25

–       Habitual Entertainment #3


–       I Hate This Part of Texas #5

–       Propulsive Utopia

–       Doris #26

–       Communication FUNdamentals

–       Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills

–       Homes Not Jails: The Story of HNJ San Francisco & The Secret Success of a Squatting Movement to House the Homeless

–       28 Pages Lovingly Bound with Twine #4

–       Herbal First Aid (assembling a natural first aid kit)

–       Dogs without Cars

–       Start Seeing… Sorry… apologies, apologies

–       Suburban Blight

–       Xerography Debt #27

–       The Match! #96

–       Dishwasher #9

–       Give me a dollar!

–       Taking Back our Agriculture: The Power of Money

–       The Sunseed Cook Book: Recipes and ideas for all Sunseed Cooks

–       Peulah Shaveh Chaiyim Action= Life


–       Hothead Paisan #20, Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist

–      Rad Dad #19

–      Minnow

–      Fucktooth #19

–      Sunseed Desert Technology; The Sunseed Solar Cooking Guide

–       An Unfortunate Mouse in our House

–       The Sunseed Cook Book: Favourite vegan and vegetarian food from the Spanish Project

–       Cooking with Ole Ma’ Tilton: A Cookbook and Cooking Journal

–       Doris #23

–       Prisoners & Partisans: Italian Anarchists in the Struggle Against Fascism

–       RecLAmation

–       Origins and Meaning of WWI by John Zerzan: An Anarchist Examination of WWI’s Roots in the Context of the Social Question and its Dynamics

–       Zine Yearbook #9


–       Keep Fighting TEXAS # 7

–       Learning Good Consent

–       The Sky is a Well, and Other Shorts

–       Revolutionary Self- Theory: A beginners Manual

–       Nebulosi

–       Shut Up & Love the Rain

–       Away with all Cars

–       Fire In the Belly, Space in the Throat

–       DIY or Don’t We? A Zine About Community #1

–       On Subbing: The First Four Years

–       Any Time Now: A Newsletter of Social Anarchism #23

–       Anarchism & Violence

–       28 Pages Lovingly Bound with Twine #10

–       Support

–       Stinky Grrrl #5

–       D.I.Y. Guide II

–       The CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting #6: The Life of Lee Harvey Oswald

–       Rad Dad #18 Sex & Love

–       Prison Abolition

–       Xerography Debt: Startling Small Press Pulp Adventure

–       Palestinian Authority Israeli Rule; Understanding the So-called Peace Process and The New Dynamics Between Israel and The Palestinian Leadership


–       Beyond Squat or Rot; Anarchist Approaches to Housing

–       Nbulosi #3

–       Residue #6: Comics to Clean Your Colon

–       Residue #7: Wholesome comics for the entire family

–       28 Pages Lovingly Bound with Twine (floss) #9 The Dental Issue

–       Dishwasher #13 The Northwest Tour

–       Dishwasher #12

:   :   :   :   :   :   :   :

The zine rainbow lives on in mini form : )

! ! ! m i n i r a i n b o w ! ! !