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Papercut íZine Library opens

"It looks like an Elks Lodge," says Mothra, referring to the Harvard Square meeting hall of hardwood floors and old chandeliers adjacent to the just-opened Papercut íZine Library. "Just not a ghetto Elks Lodge." Itís Tuesday afternoon, three days after the Papercut íZine Library opened, and Mothra, the bullet-belted punk-rock librarian on duty, is sitting in a comfy chair explaining what inspired the venture: a pile of ízines collecting dust on her best friendís floor. "I was like, ĎIsnít there some way to let other people use these?"

Last fall, Mothra started holding monthly meetings for anyone interested in starting a ízine library. Initially, only a handful of people showed; fortunately, one of them was a Harvard student who knew about this Elks LodgeĖstyle Mount Auburn Street space, a mostly empty building used by Harvardís progressive and radical groups. Eventually, the landlord agreed to house Papercut, too. "I was thinking it was a warehouse or a cubicle in an office," she says. "I walked in and almost had a heart attack. This place is gorgeous."

Papercut is a lending library, so everything on the shelves can be borrowed. Membership is free, and allows patrons to check out up to four ízines for two weeks. Late fees are generous: five cents a day, topping out at two dollars and a revoked membership. Mothra emphasizes that Papercut is open to everyone, with sections devoted to subjects like music, feminism, queer/trans, and personal ízines. "Anybody can come in ó this is not a Harvard-only space," she says. "We just donít want people making it their hangout. This isnít a homeless shelter; this isnít a squat." That said, she adds: "If youíre bored or tired or need to chill, youíre totally welcome."

Papercutís selection is pretty sweet. Among the 1300 booklets already shelved, and the hundreds more still in boxes, there are some amusing finds. A Womenís Socialist Review from 1980. Swing Times magazine. A German anti-fascist, anti-Nazi soccer magazine. A late-í80s issue of Maximumrocknroll, with Offspring on the cover. And possibly Mothraís favorite, a dumpster-diving discovery from last winter: a Beatles fanzine from 1982. "I have it, itís over here," she says pulling out a color pamphlet "I was a month old when this thing came out!"

Papercut íZine Library, at 45 Mount Auburn Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; ízine donations are accepted. For more information, visit www.baamboston.org/papercut/.

Issue Date: May 20 - 26, 2005
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