Impossible Library: Who is Schikkimikki?
Schikkimikki: I am Leona from the Schikkimikki Zine Library. Our full name is Schikkimikki Zinedistro & Library. We identify more like a zine library. The distro part is smaller but not completely faded out because we work on many levels as a zine hub. You can browse and borrow zines, even buy or trade—in the best case scenario for another zine. Matti and I run it together and divide the responsibilities. He does a lot of important stuff especially regarding to the changes during the pandemic. Whereas, I do a lot of the organizing and donation admin and so forth. We are located in a small 22 square meter room. Since the renovation, we lost a few square meters, so 22 is about right. At the moment, we have a collection of about —I have to admit we have not counted the whole thing— 1600 zines. We received a whole lot of new zines last month. There are boxes of zine everywhere, they are not yet listed. Rounded up and looking at our overall genres, that’s how we came to that number.
IL: What was your first publication?
SM: It’s a shame we don’t have a concrete title. Our library started by joining up our respective zine collections and thinking why should this be our private collection, since there are so many rare things that one does not find otherwise. Why not make that accessible? I think the first zine with our library stamp is Tiny Masters, a micro collective in Leipzig by Anna Haifisch and James Turek.
IL: And your last?
SM: Maybe we have to speak about the procuring. We rarely do that. We only do it out of passion: We have to contact this person, we need their zine! Lately, a lot of people send us stuff. Either it is a private collection or a zinester’s newest. I think the newest is this Sayonara from Freiburg by The Ugly Cat Collection. Its illustrations are minimalist. If that counts as procuring, then that was the last one added to the collection. The last concrete zines we got at our zine festival Hungry Eyes and was by Maja Björk Let Yourself be Uncomfortable.
Our library started by joining up our respective zine collections and thinking why should this be our private collection, since there are so many rare things that one does not find otherwise. Why not make that accessible?
IL: How do you file?
SM: This idea of filing is something one can discuss long and hard. In the beginning, we consciously decided NOT to do it. One could say we made it easy for ourselves and in the end, we decided we did not feel in the position to give each zine a category. With a small collection, this is also easier. Now, with the renovation and our experience that many people come here and are a bit overwhelmed with the amount of booklets. Where do I begin? In this frame, we decided to take a very reserved approach to group the zines. We allowed ourselves to group very generally, which is always easier than to categorize the content: These are comics, these are collages, these are photo zines. When people are on the look for something like that, we always try to explain there are intersections.
I think zines allow for a different library system than other analog or digital systems. It seldom happens that an individual zine is looked for, people who come here are usually open for a spectrum. That is why we rarely had a situation that someone was here and said: “I want this zine.”If it does happen, let’s sit down and look for it.
There are different reasons for this “Why?” We talked a lot about why do we even have to do this? Why are we expected to create a certain system of order? But we just wanted to try out an experiment: a nonprofit space that is supposed to give us freedoms we maybe do not have in our everyday work life or the rest of our daily lives. So, we thought: maybe we can just develop the system on our own. After all, we have time. Why can’t we just wait and see, what are our needs and what are the needs of the people that come here, or will they feel patronized by a certain category, this applies not just to zine-consumers but also to zine makers. It’s difficult to organize a zine, without talking to the person who made it.
I think zines allow for a different library system what other analog or digital systems don’t allow for.
Of course in the pandemic we reached our limits, which were not conscious of us two years ago because we were a completely analog system. Each zine is on a list, we register every donation, but our lending system is analog. But sitting in the pandemic, people can’t come and browse. That is where we are right now and Matti has been doing a lot in terms of radical cataloging. We looked at different open source systems with which we could catalog and buzzwords like online data and data protection. Especially for zines —where zines are a kind of safe space separate from the Internet— this is necessary. But if you have an online catalog then that ceases to exist because then you are in the Internet. It is a tricky business and leads us to think about categorization in ways that we did not want to think about before.
Especially for zines —where zines are a kind of safe space separate from the Internet— this is necessary.
IL: Who are your readers?
SM: We always ask ourselves who do we want to reach and who do we reach and is there some kind of cross-section. Because of course we want to reach a lot of people and be as barrier-free as possible but at the end of the day, we notice that it is a relatively naive view of our target audience. Especially if you are in such a small niche space like us.
We have like no publicity and even block this—sometimes more and sometimes less voluntarily—Our services are of particular interest to people from the zine scene. But we also have a lot of people come in—when there is not a pandemic—like tourists who like me google: where are the zine hot-spots? Then get excited, and turn up without knowing. Then, there is the public that comes to us for the workshops that we offer on afternoons and evenings where you can find out: What is a zine and how to make a zine? With this, we also reach people, who also don’t have the chance to get to know this medium because only recently, it was not mainstream and now finds an audience in a relatively academic scene, with particular creative insider information. At the end of the day, we hope our workshops reach a few young people, that get to know the zine as their outlet. That is kind of our mission, we have made our flagship. We are still perfecting our workshop concept so we are not such an exclusive space. In the neighborhood, we are not exclusive. We are relatively well accepted. People come by that have never been exposed to the medium but somehow like this strange place in the neighborhood in which they can confront themselves with new things. But in the end, it's mostly zine people who benefit from our offers.
Link to: Deep Dive with Schikkimikki
Schikkimikki e.V. Stuttgarter Straße 60
Interview by Nina Prader
Support: Ina Römling, Torben Körschkes, Annika Dorau, Urs Spindler, Malte Spindler