Barnard Zine’s Library taught us that journaling in all its forms can be a deeply personal and important ritual.

On December 1, Barnard’s Zine Library (BZL) hosted Dear Diary, an event all about how members of the community use journals, diaries, and other resources as both a method of organization and a creative outlet. Two Bwog staffers, Ava: one avid journal-er, and Hattie: an aspiring journal-er attended, and are here to tell you what they learned.

At the start of the event, presenter Grace Li (BC ‘24) highlighted how journal-keeping and zine-making can intersect. Through two examples, attendees gained an understanding of the various ways that we can document our lives and publish them to the world through a zine, while at the same time maintaining a sense of privacy and security. For example, Li presented one of her top choice diary zines “FUIWDWYTM” (F**k U I Won’t Do What You Tell Me) which uses cryptic vernacular to privatize sharing personal details through a public form. The other zine that we looked through was “you don’t get there from here,” a comic-style zine with over sixty editions in which the author chronicles her daily life. She documents the people she sees, places she goes to, and conversations she has, with each strip associated with a song. Through both, we were able to see the ways that zine-making and diary-keeping can intertwine and especially how we can document our own private experiences in a broader way.

Two examples of diary-zines. Go take a look yourself at the BZL! 

Throughout the workshop, attendees reflected on their different journaling mediums such as diaries, scrapbooks, and bullet journals. In a show-and-tell style, attendees volunteered to share their personal diary-keeping methods, including travel journals, academic planning, and sketches that documented moments of their lives. This did not only showcase community members’ artistic talents, but inspired us to incorporate journal-keeping into our lives—it should never be a chore, but instead a way to reflect, explore passions, and establish a physical memory. One attendee reflected on how keeping a journal was an outlet to explore her academic interests in creative writing in a more personal, informal setting. We were also intrigued by how some students used their journals as a place to hold memorabilia from their lives. For example, one student showed their travel journal which held name badges, plane tickets, receipts, polaroids, poems, and other snippets that they collected.

After viewing these many inspirational examples of how we can implement journal-making into our lives, Jenna Freedman, director of the BZL, passed around custom-made journals for us to set up for ourselves. We cut up old magazines and yearbooks (with permission), which led to a surprise for another Bwog Staffer attending the event finding a great-grandfather in the 1974 yearbook. During these meditative thirty minutes, we forgot all about the looming stresses of finals–ripping up snippets of vintage culinary magazines and writing our thoughts onto the page. 

Some of our materials.

In a digital age of death-scrolling and an abundance of information online, it’s important to disconnect from the rest of the world, even for a few minutes. Journaling provides an accessible, relaxing outlet to do so, and we’d recommend trying it out!

Hattie’s first page!

Images via Author