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Alternative library sets up shop in Somerville

Posted by Alix Roy  March 18, 2010 10:04 AM

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At a time when the traditional library is struggling, one of its quirkier counterparts is expanding its volunteer-based operation.

The Papercut Zine Library, a lending-library with a collection of over 12,000 hand-made photocopied titles, opened its doors to the public last weekend from its new home at 226 Pearl Street in Somerville. Coming from a 120-square-foot space in Harvard Square, the library's owners are excited to have some room to breath.
 
“We're very happy with our new space,” said co-founder Clara Hendricks, who has watched the library's membership grow to over 1,000 in the past four years.
 
Papercut specializes in independent media, with zines – self-published works produced on photocopiers or by hand - constituting the bulk of its collection. Zines can be written on any topic and were a popular way for authors to print and share their work shortly after the invention of the photocopier.

The library's largest zine collections fall into the personal, political and comic categories, Hendricks said. There are also a number of handmade zines.

“There's a little bit of everything,” she said. “We have something for everybody.”

Becoming a member of the library is free, although a one-time donation of $10 is encouraged. Members can check out four zines at a time for up to two weeks or browse during the library's regular hours between 2 and 7 p.m. Friday through Monday. Papercuts also accepts donations of zines to add to its collection.

Hendricks is hoping to host zine workshops for aspiring zinesters in the near future and is looking to collaborate with Somerville's many art and literary organizations. The new facility has plenty of wall space for future shows, she said.
 
“We've always been a part of what is going on around us,” she said.

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