Salt Lake City Public Library Zine Collection in trouble

I sent this out to the Progressive Librarians Guild list, but thought it belonged in the blogosphere, as well.

Julie Bartel, founder of the Salt Lake City Public Library Zine Collection and author of the first and only book on zines in libraries (From A to Zine: Building a Winning Zine Collection in Your Library) is to have nothing more to do with the collection. A creative and passionate YA librarian, Julie was transferred to A/V collection development some time ago, but only very recently was banned from the collection she invented. The collection is still being tended by Julie's long-time collaborator, the extremely well-qualified Brooke Young, but neither is sure even that will continue. It should also be noted that while Brooke has also been with the collection since the beginning (1997), she is currently in library school. SLCPL is not dedicating librarian time to this high profile and much beloved project that serves a diverse constituency ranging from homeless teens to international scholars.

This is a grave issue for (at least) two reasons.

  • The SLCPL Zine Collection, at nearly 10 years old is the standard for public library zine collections. Zines are a severely underrepresented genre in libraries, and SLCPL has one of the largest collections going. So far there is no word that the collection is in physical danger, but a cataloging project that would improve access tremendously has been halted.
  • Librarians are not (nor are any workers) game pieces to be moved around at the whim of administrators. When you've got someone talented, innovative, and self-starting, and who excels in a specialty seen by many as challenging at best and loathsome at worst, it seems unwise to assign her instead to a position that she'll do her best at, and with as good an attitude as she can muster because she's a professional, but that isn't where she wants to be or where her skills are utilized best. I suspect that Julie violated one or more "Advice for New Librarians" no-nos.

I hope you will join me in writing to SLCPL director Nancy Tessman, to let her know that the zine collection is a valuable resource and that it deserves and requires the passionate stewardship of its founding librarian to continue to be so. (No diss of Brooke, of course. This letter would be almost the same if she were removed.) If you want to see my letter, let me know.

Nancy Tessman
Salt Lake City Public Library
210 E 400 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111