conference presentations updates zine librarians

ARLIS: 51st Annual Conference

We are excited to announce that ZineCat Project Manager Lauren Kehoe and Anchor Archive Librarian Amanda Stevens will be presenting at the ARLIS/NA Conference on ZineCat and Zine Thesaurus this spring. Read more about their session below.

Banner featuring butterflies for the ARLIS/NA 51st Annual Conference. The theme of the conference is "Transformación."
Image Credit: Art Libraries Society of North America

Community Tools for Radical Collections: Building a Subject Thesaurus and Union Catalog for Zines 

Zines are rich research materials, increasingly being collected across libraries. Perhaps because zines exist in counter-cultural spaces, they were first collected and circulated by independent zine libraries. This hybrid environment of zine collections translates to dispersed and varied mechanisms for access and description. Descriptions and metadata, and thus discovery of zines, are strewn across library catalogs, archival finding aids, standalone databases, spreadsheets, print handouts, and proprietary online platforms. This multiplicity poses impediments to finding and using zines in aggregate. Furthermore, zines are radical publications that defy rules, often lacking metadata and not fitting into standardized systems for cataloging and classification. 

Members of the zine library community have been working collaboratively to build their own shared tools for improving management of, and access to, zines and zine collections. These tools include ZineCat, a union catalog for zines, and a zine subject thesaurus for alternative description.  This presentation will provide an overview of both projects, how they have worked alongside each other and will continue to grow together, and how attendees can contribute to and participate in them.   

ZineCat is a centralized database of zine catalog records, and a searchable database of holdings information, that will provide digital content when available. It will save a researcher’s time by collocating metadata from many disparate sources and will allow under-resourced zine libraries to copy and share catalog records. 

The Zine Thesaurus is a hierarchical thesaurus of subject terms that are more accessible, current, and radical than standard subject thesauri such as Library of Congress Subject Headings. It is used in zine library catalogs and collections around the world and will be integrated into ZineCat. It was developed by an independent zine library in Canada and is updated and maintained by a dispersed group of zine librarians, with mechanisms for broad community feedback on choice of terms and contributions of new terms. 

Centering on the ZineCat and thesaurus examples, we will provide an overview of the projects, how they were developed, where they’re headed, and how they use open source platforms to aggregate open data. We will discuss challenges in sustaining collaborative, international projects, independent of institutional support and how we grapple with the problems inherent in sharing information online (i.e. with respect to zine author anonymity, etc.).  

ZineCat and the thesaurus are creator-centric projects because many members of the zine libraries community are zine makers, as well as zine custodians, though the catalog serves researchers and pleasure readers, as well as zine makers.  This presentation will end with a call to welcome new contributors and contributions, as the projects are still in active development!

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