Halifax zine library lifts anchor

Anchor Archive Zine Library departs Gottingen St. and reflects on future


The newly set up Anchor Archive Zine Library, at RadStorm
The newly set up Anchor Archive Zine Library, at RadStorm   Nicole Maunsell

Halifax’s library of self-published zines has moved for the second time since relocating to Gottingen St. in 2014.

On Sunday, Jan. 10, about 15 volunteers moved the collection of more than 5,000 zines to its new home at the all-ages music venue and community space RadStorm, on Almon St. The volunteer-run library of photocopied zines, which range in subject from gardening advice to personal experience with gender dysphoria, had previously been hosted by Plan B Merchants Co-op, on Gottingen St.

“We needed more space for people to be able to drop-in and make zines,” says Nicole Maunsell, a volunteer with the library. “We didn’t feel that Plan B was the right environment for us.”

Nicole Maunsell has volunteered with the Anchor Archive Zine Library for six years now. She says the decision to move to RadStorm came out of a shared sense of frustration and lack of energy between library volunteers.

A large portion of the library’s catalogue is locally produced content. Titles such as Identifying Wild Mushrooms of Nova Scotia rest next to We Will Not Go Quietly Into the Night: Gentrification of Halifax’s North End, making the library a source of much local wisdom.

The Anchor Archive was founded at the Roberts Street Social Centre in 2005. The library had moved to Plan B on Gottingen St. after Roberts Street Social Centre closed in 2014.

Inkstorm Screen Printing Collective, which founded RadStorm alongside punk outfit Sad Rad, used to call the Roberts Street Social Centre home as well, so the move to RadStorm seems natural to Archive volunteers.

“It feels like we’ve always been here,” Maunsell says about the new library space. “It just feels right.”

Doing it ourselves

Zine-making took off as an artform in the 1980s and ’90s, fueled by the DIY-ethic of punk rock.

“To me, zine-making is when you have that idea or vision that keeps burning,” says Allison Lang, editor of the Canadian zine magazine Broken Pencil. “It’s when you have to create something, regardless of your skill level.”

“It’s what happens when you take it upon yourself to tell your own story,” she says

A number of Maritimes-produced zines
A number of Maritimes-produced zines   Mat Wilush

Lang notes that zines are becoming increasingly popular among social advocacy groups as a visually appealing and easily digestible means of disseminating information.

Lang also points to zine-making’s potential, claiming it’s “increasingly being used as a tool for agency” for marginalized groups.

One thing that is always on Lang’s mind, however, is the effect of the Internet on zine culture. How do you cultivate an interest in physical zines in an increasingly digital world?

“I really think it comes from a desire to make something physical, something you can share,” says Lang. “When you create something tangible, it becomes this artifact and there’s something special in that.”

This concern has also crossed Maunsell’s mind, especially after the Anchor Archive’s seeming-inability to remain rooted.

That said, Maunsell isn’t worried about the future of zine-making in Halifax. She says that at the library’s most recent volunteer meeting, during which they planned their move, new volunteers were as vocal and enthusiastic as the veteran volunteers.

So why does zine-making work in Halifax?

“We [Halifax] really have our own flavour,” Maunsell explains. “Our library is home to a huge number of really great local zines with lots of local history. And it isn’t always the history that you’ll be able to get anywhere else.”

Fledgling zinesters can access the library at RadStorm, 6050 Almon St., on Sundays from 2-6 p.m., or during any event at the space.

The Anchor Archive Zine Library will be hosting workshops in the coming weeks to introduce new Haligonians to the library, and to seek out a part-time librarian.