Creating a Teen Zine Collection

It’s no secret that I love zines (which I often describe as self-published mini magazines). I’ve been reading them since I was in high school, and I’ve made many close friends because of them. So when the possibility of creating a zine collection for teens at my library (the Homer Township Public Library) was brought up, I got REALLY EXCITED. A few months later, we now have a small collection of zines available (which still makes me REALLY EXCITED). So here’s a little bit about the how and the why, in case you want to do something similar.

Why a zine collection for teens? There are several reasons. Many teens have never heard of or seen a zine. As a librarian, I am lucky to have a public space in which to introduce someone to new things. I also think it’s our responsibility to offer collections of all kinds, and while zines will never be as recognized as other forms of media, that doesn’t make them of any less value. Having zines at the library (and offering books, pamphlets, and workshops about zines) shows teens that you don’t have to be a super famous writer in order to have your voice heard. All you need is a story to tell & access to a photocopier.

How did I create this collection? The short version is this: Once I got the okay from my director, I did some research on zine collections in public libraries, and then I headed to Quimby’s. I was able to spend a few hours sitting on their floor, flipping through hundreds of different zines and mini-comics (I wanted to make sure what I was buying was age appropriate, of course). I pulled a few zines from my own collection, had some zines donated by friends, and then I bought Whatcha Mean What’s a Zine? and Stolen Sharpie Revolution. We decided not to catalog the zines, and to keep them as an in-house-only collection (for the meantime, at least). I purchased a small bin to store them, made up a sign, printed off a few copies of Zines 101 (thanks, Zine World!), and started to spread the word. I spent about $100, and now we have a unique collection of awesome zines in my teen space.

Zines are not usually found on the shelves within public libraries (although the number is increasing each year). I’m lucky enough to have a director who is supportive of new ideas and a teen community that is responsive to additions to the YA collection. As a zine enthusiast and a public librarian, it doesn’t get any better than this.


Holiday Crafts and Decorations

Looking for a way to keep your teens engaged @the library during the chilly, winter months? From holiday décor to community outreach, here are a few sure-fire cures for the winter blahs!

Deck the Halls

Just when you thought you exhausted every possible recycled water bottle craft, here’s a neat idea that transforms those landfill nightmares into a beautiful wintry star garland. Click here for more details.

Origami crafts are always a big hit, so why not apply this technique to creating whimsical ornaments? This is a low budget craft idea that requires paper and a few embellishments. Step by step instructions can be found here .

For those who are ambitious (and for those who need to weed their magazine collection) here is a décor craft that is surprisingly simple yet stunningly elegant. For instructions on creating a Christmas tree from recycled magazines visit this link .

Sharing is Caring

Winter vacation is a great time for teens to get involved in the community. Arrange for teens to conduct a story time at a local women and children’s shelter or at an orphanage. How about holding a gaming day at a senior center? Have a monopoly tournament or spend an afternoon Wii bowling. Positive intergenerational activities are a big hit. Check out these links for tips on coordinating teen outreach programs, 20 Ways for Teenagers to Help Others by Volunteering, Do Something and the National Youth Leadership Council .

‘Tis Better to Give…

Looking for some great handmade gift ideas that teens will  enjoy making and receiving?  Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Mod podge hangers are cool, classy, practical and oh, so chic.!

I can hardly believe how cool and uber-simple it is to make this no-knit scarf! Thick, bulky yarn and a few strategically placed square knots and “voila!” you’ve created a really cool gift! Click here for instructions.

What can you do with a yardstick and a few clothespins? Make a hat organizer! The chapeaux divos/divas on your list will appreciate this useful gift. Follow the basic instructions found at, this link and add bit of flair that the recipient would enjoy (favorite team colors, etc.).

Well, that’s all for now. Go forth and craft!

A Follow Up on Cardboard Tube Wars: How to successfully pull off a cardboard tube battle for tweens and teens in a public library without loss of life or limb.

So earlier I wrote about my weird inspiration for a program, specifically the Cardboard Tube Fighting League. Since that post, the program has been successfully completed in my Library with everyone having fun and no one getting hurt. The program was a great success and good vanquished over evil (at least pretend good vanquished pretend evil based on the sides the kids choose.)

Here’s what you need to pull off a Cardboard Tube Wars Program:

A waiver is handy. There are all kinds of sample waivers for programs on the internet. Find them, use them as a template and make sure your waiver is approved by your Library through whatever your approval process is before you start having parents sign them. I included the rules from the Cardboard Tube Fighting League in my waiver so that parents and participants would have them before the event ever started.

Plan the program for the summer, but start planning for it before Christmas. In November send out an All Staff Email asking for the cardboard tubes from their wrapping paper. You will get all the cardboard tubes you’ll ever need and then some.

Before you advertise the program to the public go through your tubes and try to select the ones that are about an inch and a half to two inches wide and about three feet long. Think of these as being “standard size.” You want the size of the tubes and the thickness of the cardboard for those tubes actually used in combat to be standard for all participants. The point is, after all, to be the last one with a cardboard tube still intact.

If you can, make the program registration required and base the number allowed to participate off the number of standard sized tubes you have.

Make sure in your promotional materials that you state that the tubes will be provided by the Library!

The cardboard tube fight is the apex of the program, but it isn’t the entirety of the program. Before you battle you must have armor. Pre-cut cardboard shields, markers, duct tape, yarn and extra cardboard tubes and cardboard boxes are all perfect for making all kinds of armor including gauntlets and helmets. The armor has the added benefit of identifying which team the kids are going to be one. Let them decorate their tubes in the team colors too. The teams need to be even (because, once again the team with the most intact cardboard tubes is the winner.) So if you have uneven teams, pull in a teen volunteer. In fact, I highly recommend having a teen volunteer help out at this program. Their help is INVALUABLE and then they can jump in to the fray if needed.

Before you allow them to start the battle it helps to read the rules again. Then they are fresh in everyone’s mind. Also before you battle, take lots of pictures. The armor they create will be amazing.

For a reward beyond the satisfaction of having made awesome armor and battled the hardest I got some cheap plastic trophies from a party supply store and a cheap plastic medal. I let the kids battle until it was obvious that one team was the clear winner. Then there was the problem of the fact that there wasn’t just one kid left standing. So I let them battle until only one kid had a tube. It was the largest guy in the room and one of the smallest girls in the end round. The girl was so quick and good at cardboard tube fighting that the guy ended up surrendering and letting her break his tube. She won the medal and a trophy (she was on the winning team too.) Most of the kids took their armor home with them and everyone had a great time.

Denim Crafts Under $25.00

Teens Going Green

Are you looking for a low budget “Green Program” to encourage teens to reduce their Carbon Footprint?  If so, encourage them to recycle old Denim Jeans.  These projects do not require any sewing.  To keep costs down, ask each participant to bring a pair of old jeans to the program.  I also sent out an e-mail blast (several months before the program) to my co-workers and asked them to donate their old jeans that they really needed to throw away.  I wanted to have extra fabric just in case anyone forgot to bring a pair of jeans. Visit a dollar store or a fabric store and check out the remnant bins for ribbon.  Fabric paints or other embellishments may be used to jazz up the bag.

Blue Jean Bags


  • Pant Leg from old blue jeans (any size, but adult size will make a larger bag)
  • Ribbons
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • Fabric Paints


  1. Cut a 12 – 16 inch section from the lower part of the leg from an old pair of blue jeans.
  2. Roll down the top, then punch two holes in rolled down portion.
  3. Cut fringes on the other end of cut off leg.
  4. Tie Fringes.
  5. Cut a strip of ribbon into desired length.
  6. Thread ribbon into holes, then tie at one end.
  7. Embellish with fabric paint or just decorate as desired.

Denim Journal Cover


  • Adult sized pant leg from old jeans
  • Approximately 3 inches of the waist band from jeans, including button and button hole.
  • Pocket from blue jean
  • Fabric paint
  • Fabric glue
  • Composition book or a journal


1. Cut the upper part of the leg form an old pair of adult sized jeans.

2. Cut up the leg near the inside seam and flatten.

3. Lay the opened journal/composition book onto the fabric.

4. Trim around book.

5. Leave a half inch all around to fold in.

6. Fold in the edges of the denim n and glue to inside cover of the journal.

7. Glue down the first journal page and the last page so that these pages cover the denim

8. Glue a denim pocket to the front

9. Cut off a short piece of the waist ban that

10. Glue the button to the front of the journal includes the button and the button hole.

11. Glue the button hole, plus a small part of the waist band, to the back of the diary.

12. Embellish the pocket with fabric paint.

Denim Pillow


  • One pair of old jeans
  • Ribbon or long strips of denim cut from the other leg of the jeans.
  • Scissors
  • Stuffing or fabric scraps.


1. Cut off on leg of the jeans a desired length

2. Tie one end with ribbon or denim fabric strips.

3. Stuff with fabric scraps or stuffing.

4. Tie the other end.

5. Fringe each end of the tied portion.

6. Embellish with fabric paint.

Denim Pocket Magnets\


  • Denim pockets cut from old jeans.
  • Fabric paint
  • Craft Magnets
  • Ribbons, buttons, lace or any type of embellishments
  • Fabric or craft glue


Cut a pocket from an old pair of jeans.

2. glue ribbon, trim, etc to the pocket with fabric glue

3. Write “Leave a Note” or whatever is desired on the front in fabric paint.

4. Cut a strip from the craft magnet roll the width of the pocket

5. Glue magnetic strip to the back of the pocket.  Glue