Quarantine has meant various things throughout the pandemic. In Lawrence, many of us were asked to stay in our homes as much as possible for several weeks in the spring of 2020; that was a kind of quarantine. After an exposure to the coronavirus, health officials still recommend that you remain isolated from others until it is sure you will not shed virus. That is a smaller, lonelier kind of quarantine. There is the quarantine required of traveling between high-risk areas, and the self-imposed quarantine before visiting an at-risk loved one. There was also the non-quarantine of workers essential to the functioning of our economy and basic infrastructure, an experience of the “collective,” spring-of-2020 quarantine that should be remembered in equal measure. Quarantine was not a one-time, one-size-fits-all period; instead, it is a kaleidoscopic array of timelines, occurring with random frequency and intervening abruptly in regular rhythms. In all its complexity, it is hard to capture what these extended periods of quarantine have meant for ourselves and for our community.
Enter: a zine! What’s a zine? And why does it enter here?
A zine is like a little magazine (‘zine): soft pages, not too many, and thematically focused. It is not as glossy as a professional magazine. Zines are instead known for their DIY aesthetic - photocopy machines being a primary tool in their production - and for emerging from niche communities, like Sci-Fi fans post-World War II, Riot Grrrl punks of the 90s, and other, less distinct groups. Compared to traditional publishing, zines are more accessible, cheaper to make, and more forgiving. They reach smaller audiences, so they tend towards the local: music, politics, news, nature, and so on. To paraphrase S.R. Ranganathan: to every reader their zine, and to every zine its reader.
And, for our purposes, the best part about zines: the barrier to entry is very low! If you can draw, write a journal entry or a story, or cut and paste magazine pictures and words into an arrangement that appeals to you, you can participate in zinemaking. That’s why - and here’s the lede at last - we are making quaranzines, or zines to which everyone (YOU!) can contribute a page about their quarantine experiences. Kiddos, adults, tweens, retirees, and everyone in between is welcome to create a page about quarantine, and we’ll include it in several final volumes of the LPL Quaranzine. You could write about a day in the life of quarantine, about hobbies you took up or abandoned, about the emotional whirlwind of the early pandemic, about a loss you experienced - anything you’d like. We want to collect as many of your stories as possible into a single collection, where they can remind us that we weren’t alone through this scary, isolating time.
The Quaranzine will be a resource, too, for future researchers seeking to understand the daily experience of the coronavirus pandemic: what was happening, how we felt, what we did. These details of history, especially for ordinary folks, often get lost, but the Quaranzine is a way to gather them together and give them more permanence.
If you’re intrigued, participate! Until the end of 2021, you can make a page to be included in the Quaranzines. Take half a piece of copy paper - 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches - and fill it with your experience of quarantine. You can bring your page into the library and drop it at the Children’s Desk or Ask Desk (tell the person at the desk that it’s for Quaranzine!) or scan your page and email it to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Quaranzines will be integrated into the library’s Zine Collection and will be available to view for a limited time in 2022 - so don’t include anything you don’t want public. Write your name somewhere on your page if you want to be known as a Quaranzine contributor.
And if making a Quaranzine page gives you the zinemaking bug, you might check out the motley materials in the library’s collection related to zines… I, myself, will be watching “100 Dollars & A T-shirt” on Kanopy this week. Stay tuned for another opportunity to contribute to the library’s Zine Collection - coming soon!
-Hazlett Henderson is an Information Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.