With Denver Public Library's physical locations shuttered except for curbside pick-up, adult services librarian Heidi Young wanted to give people in the city a way to express their thoughts and emotions about COVID-19 and this brutal year. Inspired by Quaranzine, from the Arlington Public Library, Young decided to create a zine in which library staff and customers could reflect on the times.
"For myself as a teenager and a young person being involved in the underground music scene back in Seattle, zines were circulated a lot in that circle," Young says. "I would trade zines with my friends and drop them off at independent bookstores."
Zines are homemade magazines often showcasing works by artists, writers, photographers and other creatives. Young thought it would be the perfect outlet for her co-workers.
"We have a super-creative and innovative staff, so I knew across the system we had to be creating and expressing ourselves while we can’t be at work like normal," she says.
Young took submissions of art, writing, comics, photography and even recipes — anything that could be put in a two-dimensional format. The first edition of the zine, which she dubbed the Social Distanzine, comprises work from DPL staff only, but going forward the library will be taking submissions from the public.
Young says that every piece of writing and artwork created in the past year is in some way touched by the pandemic, and zines are a good place for people to reflect on their own experiences. She hopes the project captures how people are feeling right now and shows how different communities are responding to the pandemic.
"On a larger scale, while a lot of life has been shut down, creativity has flourished during this time," Young notes. "I see creativity as a way to survive during times of uncertainty."
For more information and to contribute, go to the Social Distanzine submissions page.
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