In 1997, Rebecca Gilbert started a private studio and office space for Reading Frenzy. Today, the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) marks how far it has come this month by moving into a new 900-ft space. Over the past three years, the IRPC has evolved from a publishing center for individual publishers and artists to a fully operational bunker with training and tools for all manners of creative exploration.
What is your mission?
"Our mission is pretty simple. It is to help facilitate the production of independently published media and art to increase the small person's voice."
How did it all come about?
"It seemed kind of absurd that people who hadn't met each other were leaving their zines on consignment at Reading Frenzy while living just three blocks apart. Portland has so many publishers, and publishing can be a very solitary act. You're working all by yourself and you give your product to the outside world, and there's no crossover with other people doing that. Most of publishers' communication happens through the mail, and I wanted to make it happen in person."
Who can use it, and how?
"It's open to the general public. All that is required is filling out a registration form, it takes five minutes, and plop down your money. You can come in and take one of our technical assistance workshops. I call them that because they are not about making something great, but about how to make it. There is no fee, and you don't have to be a member. We run a variety of groups. There is a quarterly zine publisher's potluck. There is a writing group. We have a book arts group which meets every six weeks."
The IPRC recently incorporated as a nonprofit, and received a grant, but it must be hard to run on such a limited budget.
"We would love to survive and we don't want to have to struggle for money. Our goal is to keep small and prove that we can do it.
"Of course that might be too idealistic, and it might fail, but so far things are going our way and we'll keep our fingers crossed. It needs to be small in order to not be intimidating. The people who started this were all D.I.Y. and had that punk rock ethic of 'we're just gonna do it, forget about what they say.'
"It has definitely grown beyond that now with a board of directors who are all professionals but are involved in independent publishing. I'd like to keep that feel to it though, where you walk in and you feel like, 'Yeah, I could hang out here for a couple hours,' rather than feeling 'This space belongs to somebody else,' and wondering what the rules are."