“Draw ZineCat without using words”

A drawing representing the Zine Union Catalog by Lauren Kehoe.
Drawing of ZineCat that Lauren created for the CUNY Graduate Center’s Digital Research Institute.

I was tasked with this challenge earlier this week in the first day of the CUNY Graduate Center’s Digital Research Institute!  We were given a large sheet of paper and coloring utensils and told to draw our research!! 

I drew a blank (hehe) and panicked, but after 120 seconds of panicking, I was inspired.  Start with the cat (for CATalog)!  I drew a little cat on the cover of a zine.  Then I drew some other clustered rectangles representing the zine collections that will be included in ZineCat with all clusters pointing to the Catalog.  And voila!  My drawing.  With no words.

I’d like to thank Lisa Rhody for a lot of things, but especially for kicking off the GCDRI in this way.  It’s refreshing to start a tech conference with paper and colored pencils.   I also met a digital fellow whose research includes a zine collection.  Connections! 

There’s also been a healthy dose of learning about technology tools that can be used in the Digital Humanities, the Academy, the professional world, and more specifically, for ZineCat.  I’ll write a longer post about this in the near future, but for now, know that I’ve been busy learning how to use the command line to execute version control over files and projects, how to push this content to GitHub, how to program using Python, and today we’ve done quite a bit of Text Analysis using python and Jupyter Notebook.  It’s been a lot and I’m quite tired, but well worth the exhaustion.

More soon…

class projects

Doing Things with Novels: Final Project (aka Catalogers as Authors, Metadata as Annotation or how Jenna and Lauren used ZineCat to write a paper using catalog records)

Two cats, Lightning Butt and Grampy Doodle, preparing for the St. Pete Zine Fest by sleeping on top of open notebooks and half-made zines.

Jenna and Lauren have come to the end of another semester at the Graduate Center and have had another opportunity to investigate the importance and purpose of the Zine Union Catalog, this time from a textual studies perspective.  For this semester, they both took a course called Doing Things with Novels where they created an audiobook, an annotated digital edition using and played a novel (Nella Larsen’s Passing) using a literary role playing game: Ivanhoe.  One could also say they are doing things with Digital Humanities.  

It wouldn’t be a complete experience for them if they did not use use the tools and theories they’re learning and discussing to look at ZineCat.  So, what they did this time around is to grapple with big questions regarding metadata and the role catalogers/librarians/archivists play in creating metadata.  As many of you may know, metadata is a big part of what is going to make the Zine Union Catalog so awesome, but what you may not know is that Jenna and Lauren haven’t quite figured out all the answers to the big questions regarding zine metadata!  We’re getting closer…

The project is called: Catalogers as Authors, Metadata as Annotation.  They worked a lot this semester with authors and annotation, so they tried to keep with the theme.  They’re not sure if they did strictly adhere to literary analysis or if they really explained how catalogers are authors and metadata can be equated to annotation, but they had a lot of fun creating metadata and working in Collective Access, and as always: working together.  What you will find in the Zine Union Catalog now is a set of catalog records for a collection called: Doing Things with Novels Final Project.  The types of records fall into the following categories that are essentially different parts of our project (or could be interpreted as different sections of our “paper” listed alphabetically and not necessarily in order of how you should read through the project):

  • The Acknowledgements
  • Annotated Citations
  • Comparative Analysis (Jenna looked closely at the same zine record that is described by six different collections within ZineCat while Lauren looked closely at the collections).  This entry is related to the Record Readings.
  • Conclusions
  • Introduction – Content
  • Introduction – Methodology
  • Project Description
  • Record Reading (analysis of each zine and contributing collection).
  • Reflection – General
  • Works Considered (Bibliography)

Jenna and Lauren worked together, but not together on this project.  They had in person meetings before and after class, and collaborated on a google doc, while also posting and receiving comments on the course blog and via email.  They’ve also started to comment on each others entries within ZineCat and encourage visitors to leave comments too (account required to add them to ZineCat and can be arranged by sending an email request) or to email or tweet directly at them: or @zinecat.  They’ll continue to comment on each other’s work. They’re both really busy with work and school and their schedules don’t always coordinate so well to work in person on the same days, or even in the same city. Nevertheless, they both have contributed to this project collaboratively with the great help of a Collective Access fairy (CAf) that Jenna gives a great acknowledgment to in her Acknowledgements entry in ZineCat (you should read it!).  

They suggest that you start here within the collection after you’ve familiarized yourself with the assignment description, then go here for an overview of how the project evolved, and end up with the conclusions and reflections catalog records after you’ve navigated through annotations and close readings of records and collections.  It’s possible you’ll follow that, but it’s also possible you’ll make your own way through the collection (alphabetically, by person, by collection, or by term which means the genre of the type of entry–see list above) or just search and browse; however you navigate through is just fine since everyone comes at information seeking a little differently!  If you want to just see all the content related to this project, click here.

Thanks for reading.  With Warmth and Respect.

class projects updates

Doing Things With Novels Class: Jenna’s Final Project Draft Outline

My working title is Cataloger as Author, Metadata as Annotation, but based on the outline I just turned in, I’m not sure if the title will remain. I welcome feedback, using or, if you prefer, via the Google Docs comments function. If you wish to share via the latter, please send a Google account address to me at leslzine at gmail. 

A screenshot of Jenna Freedman's paper, "Cataloger as Author, Metadata as Annotation."

conference presentations

NYC OpenCon

♥ Presentation Slides ♥

updates zine librarians

Zine Librarians unConference 2018

Lauren and Jenna met up with collaborators at the Zine Librarians UnConference, where we facilitated three Zine Union Catalog sessions (with links to session notes)

class projects


Jenna + Lauren submitted this paper for their ITP Final in early May, 2018 which aims to roadmap the next phase of ZUC development. They’ll also be updating the community at the Zine Librarian unConference in July.

ITP Core II Final ZineCat


Data Visualizations!

Lauren and Jenna completed their Visualization and Design: Fundamentals summer class. They both used zine metadata for their final projects.

Lauren’s focused on keywords from the Queer Zine Archive Project and Jenna’s was about genre terms at the Barnard Zine Library.

Here’s a taste of Lauren’s

A red data visualization of "All Keywords" written on top.

And a morsel of Jenna’s

A circle chart visualization of zine representation in the Barnard Zine Library by genre.

Lauren’s project on Github pages. Lauren’s white paper is included on her Github.

Jenna’s project on Github pages. Jenna’s white paper is available via pdf.

Let us know what you think!


Final Project Presentation

Dear You,

Tomorrow we are presenting our final project. After that we’ll have ten days to finish up our final paper.

Our final paper assignment, reflected in our final presentation was to write 12-15 pages with elements including

  • Abstract with a clear problem statement
  • Project narrative
  • Environmental scan
  • Work plan
  • Strategy for our independent

We’re at 34 pages right now, but maybe since there are two of us…

Then again, since there are two of us, we were also charged with planning workshops for the Zine Librarians unConference in July, which we did: Overview, Priorities, Hack.  Librarian overachievers, party of two!

A photo of Lauren and Jenna.

If appropriate, we’ll share the final paper with y’all when we turn it in. It’s due May 24. It’s too dogdamn long, so maybe we’ll do you a favor and make an executive summary.

updates zine librarians

Of Caticorn Herders and Glarings

Dear You,

A drawing of a unicorn cat face in red marker on white board.Yesterday we had a conference call with other folks working on the Zine Union Catalog. (Thanks Rhonda/MIT for hosting using a proprietary web conferencing tool that shall remain nameless; thanks Milo for facilitating; thanks Honor for taking notes! Thanks also to Jennifer, Eric, and Ziba (while on reference!) for participating, along with us: your CUNY masters students Lauren and Jenna.)

Here are the meeting minutes, tidied up a little, and anonymized:

class projects

ZUC ITP mid-term update!

Jenna and Lauren discuss preliminary governance structure of ZineCat, roadmapping the project’s development, and funding for their ITP midterm. Check out the full post on social paper here.