Representing More Voices and Connecting Patrons With a Second Zine Collection

Friday, January 12, 2024

The almost 150-item zine collection is in the vault area of the Central library.

Ideally, libraries house materials that reflect their patrons’ lives and experiences. The Kansas City Public Library’s more than 800,000-item collection is one of the most diverse and inclusive in the nation.

To represent even more voices and continue to connect patrons with communities who think and live as they do, the library has added a second zine collection — this one can be checked out by cardholders. The original zine collection, housed in the Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Central location since 2005, is available for browsing only.

A zine is a DIY publication usually written, illustrated, printed and distributed by a single person of any age, skill level, demographic, sexual orientation, or political or religious leaning. The pages can be filled with fine art, rough sketches, poetry, meandering thoughts, recipes, stories — anything the creator would like.

“One of the great benefits of zines is that marginalized voices are able to be amplified, because folks can tell their own story,” says Dayna Meyer, the creative director and digital marketing specialist for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. “They can tell how the systems we live under and the politics we live under personally affect them.”

Meyer, who publishes zines on their website,, volunteers as a KC Zine Con organizer and is excited about the Library’s new collection that will soon be available to the public. They say it’s a great addition to the already vibrant and active local zine community, which not only has a conference in its ninth year and many engaged zinesters, but several other area zine libraries.

Dayna Meyer is a publishing zinester who works to build Kansas City zine culture.

Among those existing libraries are: the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Miller Nichols Library, which includes hundreds of zines dating back to the 1970s in its LaBudde Special Collections; Goofball Sk8boards’ much newer collection; Johnson County Public Library’s collection, though it’s not available for checkout; Lawrence Public Library’s collection, which focuses on work from or about Northeast Kansas; and the substantial and well-established Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements at the University of Kansas’ Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Nash High, the Kansas City Public Library’s materials receiving specialist, has pushed for a circulating zine collection for a few years.

When they were an English major in college, they quickly discovered that it felt more satisfying and empowering to print and distribute stories than it did to try to crack the code of traditional magazine or literary journal publishing.

They’ve since learned that many other Kansas Citians feel the same.

High currently creates pet-oriented zines as well as some for their band’s music with lyrics, artwork and a download code. With zines there’s no “typical” subject matter, but what High does is in line with letting their interests guide each publication.

They point out a few of the zines in the Library’s collection as particularly appealing to them. One is The Schemin Vegan, which they share with their mom.

“When she’s cooking for family, she does kind of have to go vegan. These are very pretty, they’re very colorful,” High says, “and then they just have different recipes that the zinester, Jaydream, has encountered.”

But High also really likes one by Rachel Klem that has a red mitten on the front cover and a red glove on the back. The drawings are simple, with content that’s part knitting instruction and part personal narrative.

Wallflower is another really good one,” High says. “It’s a comic about this little ghost who’s kind of invisible; the art is very cool. And they’re just kind of dealing with people not seeing them, so it’s emotional, too.”

Nash High is a materials receiving specialist at the Library and was instrumental in starting the circulating zine library.

High’s colleague, technology center associate Karla Mullis, collected many of the nearly 150 zines through donations at KC Zine Cons going back to 2019.

However, unlike the original set in the Missouri Valley Special Collections, which patrons can donate to by emailing, moving forward, acquisitions in the new collection will enter the Library the same as other local authors’ work, through the Suggest a Purchase page at

“I think it’s important for us to be actually engaging the zine communities and zine sellers and actually buying their wares,” High says.

“This collection,” they add, “is going to represent a lot of local creators and smaller creators, who’ve just created these things independently. So immediately, even just with the regular sort of library collection model, we’re tapping into a whole different realm.”

Meyer says that zine libraries at locations like Goofball Sk8park are great, though they’re appealing to an existing, niche group.

“But the public library,” Meyer says, “crosses so many demographics in Kansas City and has such a broad appeal that having zines on the shelves next to books and magazines and DVDs, there’s the chance that someone will just pick up a zine on a topic that’s interesting to them or that they find through the catalog just using search terms.”

(This story was written in partnership with KC Studio Magazine and first appeared in its January/February 2024 issue.)