In September 2019, the Associated Students, Inc., Henry Madden Library, and various other campus groups collaborated to organize Dogs for Democracy in a week-long, non-partisan, student-run voter registration event in the Henry Madden Library. Throughout the week the Fresno State community was invited to create artwork in collaboration with Laureate Lab Visual Wordist fellows to express their views on civic engagement and respond to the question “Why do you vote?”
The result is a unique zine (pronounced “zeen”) expressing a wide variety of student views on voting and the issues that are important to them.
Now available in PDF format, the zine has been included in CSU ScholarWorks, the Open Access repository that collects, preserves, and provides access to scholarship by research communities at The California State University. ScholarWorks is open to student publications with a sponsoring faculty member, and gives students an opportunity to share their research and creative endeavors with the wider academic community.
Read on as Ginny Barnes, First Year Student Success Librarian, takes us through the creation of the Dogs for Democracy Zine:
What was the idea that led to the creation of this zine?
Ginny: Last year the community came together to host a week of engagement around National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) on campus. We wanted to give students more opportunities to express themselves in addition to registering to vote. A collaborative zine was a good fit for that. The Laureate Lab folks helped us facilitate gathering contributions for the zine.
Talk to us about the collaborations involved. . . who participated, how did things come together?
Ginny: My colleague at the library, Britt Foster, expressed interest in doing some programming for National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), I was immediately on board. We found out Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) and other student groups also had some plans in motion, so we came together to make a bigger impact. The library provided space and equipment to register to vote, students staffed and facilitated the process. It was good teamwork!
Are there any themes or through-lines that came forward?
Ginny: Everyone that contributed seemed to place some value in using their voice or amplifying the voices of those who can’t vote. I also saw a lot of people express their desires for positive change and being active in making that happen.
What surprised you or gratified you all in the creation of this zine?
Ginny: It’s mostly just crazy looking at this thing we created as a community over a year ago and to think about everything that has changed since then. We’ve all been impacted by the pandemic in some way. Now using our voices and being civically engaged feels even more critical.
This zine is published in ScholarWorks. Can you tell us a little about the significance of that?
Ginny: We think about libraries as places to access information. They are also places to record our history. ScholarWorks will keep a permanent copy of the zine, so future generations of students and the Fresno community can look back on this work. We also hope to get a hard copy of the zine in the library’s Special Collections.
How do you hope students and the community will engage with this piece?
Ginny: I hope they see these personal and creative expressions and are inspired to use their voice in a new way. And of course, I hope they vote!
Can you tell us just a bit about zines and their resurgence as a medium of expression?
Ginny: Zines (short for magazine, pronounced ‘zeen’) are any self-published or Do-it-Yourself (DIY) work. They’ve been around since the 70s (and even before) as sci-fiction fan-zines and were also really popular in the 90s punk music and riot grrrl scene. They are still around today with zine fests all over the world that bring together artists and writers. What I love about zines is their accessibility; literally anyone can make one, and the creator has complete control in deciding what the zine is about and what it looks like. I got into librarianship after getting involved with my community zine library. If you’re interested in learning more about them, email me! Let’s talk 🙂