Managing Editor Eva Sher and Events Editor Brigid Cromwell got to talk with Barnard Zine Librarian Jenna Freedman via Zoom call about the Barnard Library’s Quaranzine collection.

Since moving online in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, universities have been faced with the difficulty of adjusting to an increasingly digital world. Students and professors must grapple with overcoming physical distance and the challenges that accompany online learning, all while maintaining a sense of normalcy and community in these truly unprecedented times. While quarantine has posed difficulties in multiple facets of life, it has also facilitated communal creativity across state and country borders.

The Barnard Library is working with womxn and non-binary people across the country to collect COVID-19 zines, known as Quaranzines, to foster a sense of community through digital and print works of art. Barnard Zine Librarian Jenna Freedman is coordinating the collection of Quaranzines with the help of two student assistants, Mikako Murphy ’22 and Rita Nguyen ’23. When asked where her inspiration originated, Jenna cited the digital Quaranzine Fest held this past April 4 and 5. Zine creators from across the world posted their creations on social media platforms with the hashtag #quaranzinefest, and in doing so, created a virtual gallery of artwork as a solidarity movement of sorts. As for the Barnard Library, Ms. Freedman has been printing out the zines students, staff, and other individuals unaffiliated with Barnard send her. She emphasizes the library’s ongoing focus on print culture and commitment to physical zines, even during this time of social distancing.

Jenna and her student assistants are aiming to collect zines that reflect a first-hand account of people’s experiences in quarantine. “It just seems really important to document this moment and to document it in a wider range of views than are always shared,” Jenna shared. She emphasized the importance of sharing voices of womxn and nonbinary creators, including those outside of the Barnard community, to accurately depict the current moment from the point of view of historically marginalized people. Making zines is about recording one’s unique experience, and the collection of Quaranzines showcases these differences while also highlighting certain patterns. Jenna acknowledged that there are bound to be repetitions of ideas or themes in zines and that these similarities can actually provide commentary in themselves. As she said, “I don’t mind if things are repetitive, because I think that’s part of the story.” The repetition shows the ubiquity of anti-Asian racism, the need for homemade masks, and the difficulties of being in isolation at home.

Rita Nguyen, one of the student zine assistants, reflects on the benefits of creating zines during this unpredictable time, stating: “I think it’s much healthier to document our feelings and release them through way of making zines rather than bottling our frustrations up. It’s low stakes, creative, and a way to share experiences with others!” Rita emphasizes the importance of documenting thoughts and emotions during this time of intense reflection, whether that be through journaling, drawing, or creating zines. As a student assistant, Rita searches for Quaranzines through the hashtags #quaranzine and #quaranzinefest on Barnard Library’s social media platforms. The process of acquiring zines for the collection is unique in that they can be purchased with money or swapped with other zines. Jenna and her student assistants uphold the integrity of zines and their communal nature even during this time of intense isolation and fear. The collection serves as a symbolic reminder of the power of unity and community in surviving unprecedented experiences.

There are currently thirty zines in the collection, and Jenna mentioned that she has ten zines in the process of being scanned and uploaded to the archives. The archive lists the titles of all of the zines in the collection, and some even have downloadable versions to be viewed at home.

Any womxn or non-binary person, including those outside of the Barnard/Columbia community, can submit Quaranzines to Jenna via an electronic or physical copy. Electronic copies can be sent to and physical copies can be sent to a postal address provided once interest is demonstrated to that same email address. The Barnard Library is willing to pay up to eight dollars via PayPal per zine depending on postage and labor put into the zine. Jenna expects to spend around five hundred dollars on collecting zines to archive this moment in history.

Other departments on campus are collecting Quaranzines as well, including the Columbia Archives and the Barnard Media Center.

Jenna will be holding a zine-making workshop tomorrow, May 5th from 3 pm to 5 pm EST. She explained that everyone innately has the ability to make and submit a good zine and that this workshop is meant to give you the ability to familiarize yourself with the process. Bwog staff members will definitely be in attendance, and we hope our readers will be too.

Image via Bwog Archives