Farewell + Many Thanks!

Dear ZineCat friends,

I started this position in the fall of 2021. I was new to the city and so thankful for the opportunity to be working with a familiar and beloved material – zines! Lauren and Jenna warmly welcomed me onto the team, introducing me to the ins and outs of this incredible project that would benefit everyone from artists and researchers, to individual zine makers and readers. When I first arrived in the fall, our website and blog was in need of help with expired links and WordPress URL redirects, so I tackled that first before sharing our information onto new social media platforms. Once the site and its blog were ready to go, I created an Instagram account (@zineunioncat) for ZineCat and continued to update the Twitter account as well as our blog. I generated content for our social media accounts that often featured images of cats from the vast zine community. Thanks to Jenna for sharing and allowing me to repost some photos from her Tumblr account! Besides cats, our social media platforms would also feature zine-specific publications and presentations delivered at library conferences, as well as other major events. I also went through our GitHub repository, updating the page with new information. We also floated around the internet jointly-created international zine collections/organizations list. This public GoogleDoc includes zine collections from around the world and will be especially helpful for the larger vision of ZineCat, but it is also useful for zinesters who are looking to visit a collection in their area. Because I was immersed in the middle of these tasks, and funding for the position was set to end in the spring, I also started looking at humanities grants around New York City. Lauren and I put together an application that she then shared with the staff at NYU Libraries, which thankfully allowed me to continue on for the full year and a half.

In the spring, with the lifting of certain Covid restrictions, the team at the time, which consisted of Jenna, Lauren, Vita, our Metadata Intern, and I were able to visit the Barnard Zine Library and to witness the amazing work that Jenna does as the librarian there. It was an inspiring field trip that helped put into context the kind of work that we had for the most part been doing remotely from home. To get the word out there about ZineCat, I had assembled outreach documentation and a GoogleForm to send to the Zine Librarians ListServ for when ZineCat is ready to expand. Meanwhile, I did an accessibility check on our website and blog, making sure to add alt text on all images and an inventory of all the documents on our blog. I also went through past issues of our zine Shared Authority, and created alternate and accessible versions of them, including plain text and audio files of past issues. These were then shared onto our public GoogleDrive and GitHub, as well as our website. Our website also acquired more updated and current information in the About and History sections. As we were planning for the expansion of ZineCat, I also created a media kit with different logos and headers for the project. During the spring, we also received data from the Fales Collection at NYU, which will eventually be added to ZineCat. Vita and I attended the Messy Data OpenRefine Workshop series to figure out how to clean data to make it ready for ingestion. While informative, the workshop unfortunately did not prepare me for the task of tackling the giant spreadsheet ahead of me, so this project of cleaning the data from Fales is bookmarked for another time. Since Vita’s time with ZineCat was coming to an end, we wanted to get another issue of Shared Authority out, which documents the many accomplishments of the last few years. It had been close to three years since Volume 2, so we assembled Volume 2.5. Looking back, 2.5 may as well have been Volume 3, since it was quite big! ZineCat had really grown, but sometimes when we’re in the midst of the work, it does not feel that way, so we simply assumed Shared Authority v. 2.5 was more indicative of where we were at with the project. This issue and its accessible versions can also be found on the public GoogleDrive, GitHub, and website.

While our social media accounts feature a steady stream of content throughout the year, in July, we accepted Alex Wrekk’s International Zine Month challenge, continuously posting on our favorite zines, zine collections, and zine makers. When the fall came around again, we started to brainstorm next steps for ZineCat. This included a reconsideration of the website. We are currently working on an accessibility audit of our website with HaiDev, a collective of developers based in Haiti. After conducting research on website possibilities through CollectiveAccess, which is the platform which our website currently uses, I assembled a packet of designs for our future website. This culminating research and designs was presented to Eric, our web developer, who had very positive feedback. According to Eric, these design ideas were easily achievable with CollectiveAccess. Hopefully, in the coming months, we will be able to see these enhancements come to fruition on our website. In addition, we foresaw the inclusion of foreign languages on ZineCat and contacted the Queer Zine Library based out of the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, to see if they would be interested in sharing their collection with ZineCat. Their collection includes many titles in Chinese, which we want to see if our system could seamlessly ingest. Thankfully, the Queer Zine Library has expressed interest in working with us in the future. Lastly, I am assembling Shared Authority v.3! This issue will encapsulate the work of this past year and hopefully express my gratitude for being a part of such a wonderful project and community.

Though this month wraps up my time with ZineCat as the Outreach & Documentation Coordinator, I am excited to follow the project as it continues to grow. I am ever thankful to Lauren for recruiting me for this role and integrating me into the ZineCat community.

Much love,

Jennifer Huang

conference presentations updates zine librarians

ZLuC 2023 in San Francisco

Hope your new year has been off to a great start! We have an exciting announcement to share: the 2023 Zine Librarian unConference (ZLuC) will be held in San Francisco! For those who don’t know about ZLuC –

What: ZLuC is an inspirational, informative, and fun gathering of people who care deeply about zines and their ability to change lives for the better.

Where: the University of San Francisco (and hopefully other venues!)

When: to be announced (check for updates!)

Who: Everyone is welcome! The primary audience is workers and volunteers from academic, public, and special libraries, as well as community-oriented independent libraries and archives. If you’re interested in zines in libraries and archives, we’re happy to have you join in the fun.

Why: To share the zine love!

View of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge with collaged scrap paper with the text: "2023 Zine Librarian unConference (ZLuC)"
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!

updates zine librarians

We have just updated our page on Check it out for a quick summary of what we’ve been up to. For those of you who are unfamiliar with ZineLibraries, it is a zine libraries interest group maintained by a collective of people interested in all aspects of zine libraries. It has been going strong since 2007! Subscribe to their newsletters to stay up to date with all things zine-library-related.


Updated Logo

We simplified our logo! Let us know your thoughts on the design and accessibility of our website and blog. We love to hear from you. Thank you!

Updated logo for ZineCat featuring a black and pink cat paw.
Updated logo for ZineCat

New Book: Shotgun Seamstress

We are super excited about the release of Shotgun Seamstress: An Anthology tomorrow. You can order the book from its publisher Soft Skull Press.

Shotgun Seamstress: An Anthology, OSA ATOE

A cut & paste celebration of Black punk and outsider identity, this is the only complete collection of the fanzine Shotgun Seamstress, a legendary DIY project that centered the scope of Blackness outside of mainstream corporate consumerist identity.

In 2006, Osa Atoe was inspired to create an expression out of the experience of being the only Black kid at the punk show—and Shotgun Seamstress was born.

Like a great mixtape where radical politics are never sidelined for an easier ride, Shotgun Seamstress was a fanzine by and for Black punks that expressed, represented, and documented the fullest range of being, and collectively and individually explored “all of our possibilities instead of allowing the dominant culture to tell us what it means to be Black.”

Laid out by hand, and photocopied and distributed in small batches, each issue featured essays, interviews, historical portraits of important artists and scenes, reviews, and more, all paying tribute to musicians and artists that typify free Black expression and interrupt notions of Black culture as a monolith.

Featuring figures such as Vaginal Cream Davis, the seminal Black punk band Death, Poly Styrene, Bay Area rocker Brontez Purnell, British post-punker Rachel Aggs, New York photographer Alvin Baltrop, Detroit garage rocker Mick Collins and so many others, in the pages of this book rock’n’roll is reclaimed as Black music and a wide spectrum of gender and sexuality is represented. Collecting and anthologizing the layouts as they were originally photocopied by hand, this collection comprises all eight issues created between 2006 and 2015.

For more information on this brilliant publication, check out this article from The Guardian.

miscellaneous zine librarians

Cool Things We’ve Cataloged

The RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee‘s Program Planning Group will be holding its Cool Things We’ve Cataloged Lightning Talks on Friday, October 28, 2022 at 3pm EST.

In this webinar Amy Swanson, Geanna M. Hernandez-Phan, Kim Schwenk, Leia Lynn, and Linh Uong will be discussing interesting and challenging collections or items they have cataloged. These include Risograph-printed zines, mystery novels, a 17th century legal document, and a collection of STEM kits.

To join us, please register here for the login information.

miscellaneous updates

New Website Designs

We’ve been thinking about new designs for our website and are currently working with HaiDev on an accessibility audit for our webpage.

Website mock-up with about text and navigation tabs on top, featuring the ZineCat paw logo.
Website mock-up on a white background with navigation buttons.
Mock-ups for a new website layout. Which do you prefer?

We would greatly appreciate your feedback on what you would like to see on the ZineCat website. How can we better serve your zine search needs? Check out some of our designs and please feel free to add your input in the comments below.


Revisiting Foundations – Code of Ethics

As a new school year begins, we thought it would be a perfect time to revisit our foundations in the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics. This document (and zine) was first drafted in 2014 at the Zine Librarians (un)Conference in Durham, NC. The Code of Ethics was written to establish a set of core values that inform and guide the work of zine librarians. These values are openly shared in order to strengthen communication and build trust within the zine community. It is expected to continually change and grow as the needs of the community evolves.

The Zine Librarians Code of Ethics was created by Heidy Berthoud, Joshua Barton, Jeremy Brett, Lisa Darms, Violet Fox, Jenna Freedman, Jennifer LaSuprema Hecker, Lillian Karabaic, Rhonda Kauffman, Kelly McElroy, Milo Miller, Honor Moody, Jude Vachon, Madeline Veitch, Celina Williams, and Kelly Wooten.

Cover of Zine Librarians Code of Ethics Zine featuring a black and white photo of a cat sitting on top of xeroxed copies of pre-assembled zines.

If you have any comments or concerns for the Code of the Ethics, please email zinepavilion at gmail dot com. Thank you!

funding updates

NEH Grant Application

We recently submitted a grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities and wanted to share with our readers the project narrative for ZineCat. Take a look below to learn more about our evolving project, or you can check out a copy of our application that we’ve shared on Shared AuthorityVol. 2.5 here.


The Zine Union Catalog (ZineCat) is a shared catalog dedicated to zines. A zine, short for fanzine or magazine, is a DIY publishing medium traditionally used by subculture communities for sharing their lives and knowledge. A shared catalog is a resource where libraries can mingle cataloging and holdings information. Zines are primary sources for humanities, social sciences, and other fields, but due to the diverse standards and practices among libraries, archives, and community organizations that collect and maintain them, accessing zines through traditional research discovery systems has been challenging. ZineCat empowers researchers to discover zine holdings by searching a single catalog, helps librarians copy catalog records to eliminate duplication of effort, and facilitates lending. ZineCat serves educators, researchers, librarians, archivists, zine makers, and anyone with an interest in zines. 

Index card titled "What is a Zine? [Star] My Definition:" with the definition: "For me a zine is not just a self-made and self-published booklet but it is also situated within DIY culture. This means it is non-profit, non-commercial, low-budget, and non-competitive. Topics and styles can vary but it's important that zines remain accessible, both to readers (everyone can afford to buy or trade them) and to writers (everyone can make them). Zine don't exist as little paper islands but they are connected and blossom within a mutually supportive zine community."
Scissors & Chainsaws No. 2 : Diary Comic Zine Made in July 2020 During International Zine Month. Ghent, Belgium: Nina Nijsten, 2020.

ZineCat contains three primary components:

  • Catalog records for zine titles (descriptive metadata), which give identifying (title, creator name(s), production date and location) and contextual information (subjects, genres, abstracts, biographical and historical details)
  • Holdings information (details about libraries that hold specific issues)
  • Digitized and/or digital content when available

Developed by Jenna Freedman (Barnard College) and Lauren Kehoe (NYU) in our MA Digital Humanities (MADH) program at the City University of New York Graduate Center (CUNYGC), ZineCat’s prototype combined into a Collective Access catalog3 thirty records each from three libraries with different metadata schema: MARC, Dublin Core, and an 18-column spreadsheet. The prototype has grown to include almost 34,000 zines from eight collections with more ingests in progress. 

The zine library community values cooperation and intentionality, so we need to match the prototype growth in concert with improved infrastructure and participant collaboration systems. NEH funding creates space for deliberation, care, and clarity as we unite our catalogers and contributors in person. The grant will enable us to accomplish this necessary next step.


Zines provide firsthand accounts of social, political, economic, and cultural experiences and insight that, unlike journalism and academic scholarship, are not filtered through gatekeepers or formal editorial structures. They are produced in small runs and are often distributed by the author(s). Zines facilitate knowledge production and dissemination within marginalized, racialized, and socially alternative communities that have been overlooked or excluded by cultural heritage institutions. They are used as primary sources by students, journalists, scholars, and anyone interested in material culture, print culture, and book history. Topics represented in zines, zine culture, and zine topics, include, but are not limited to: girlhood, music fandom, homophobia in high school, people of color in punk, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, midwifery, the evolution of desktop publishing, self-publishing as activism, reactions to 9/11, fat activism, and pandemic life.

Even before they were called zines or fanzines, self-publications were a mechanism for people holding marginalized identities to share their experiences with people of similar or questioning identities, and others. The 1926 Fire!! Devoted to Younger Negro Artists by Wallace Thurman, et al. and Vice Versa, launched by Lisa Ben (an anagram for lesbian) in 1947, are forerunners. Zine movements have been accurately characterized as heavily populated by white people,  despite the contributions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) creators throughout zine history, but in recent years zine culture has become significantly more representative. For example, the NYC Feminist Zinefest, held at Barnard College annually since 2014 (on hold due to Covid), has had a steady grown in BIPOC tabler presence each year. In 2020, more than 50 percent of the tables were to be staffed by individuals and groups of color. 

Perhaps because zines exist in counter cultural spaces, they were first collected and circulated by independent zine libraries. By the early 21st century, public libraries, special collections, and academic library workers began collecting zines as research resources and as part of leisure reading collections. This hybrid environment of zine collections translates to dispersed and varied mechanisms for access. Zine 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 for research, teaching, and learning. ZineCat saves a reader’s time by collocating metadata from these disparate sources.

Zine librarians field personal and research questions from people looking to find themselves represented on library shelves, to discover others who share cultural shorthands, or who have experienced the same joys and torments. ZineCat will host holdings from any and all collections that wish to participate and will become an essential resource for answering lay and scholarly inquiries. 

By harmonizing metadata rather than standardizing it, ZineCat allows the zine community to preserve its diversity and leave control over represented words, images, and ideas to the original makers, a hallmark of zine culture.” Control over one’s words, images, and ideas is a hallmark of zine culture. For example, in the appendix, we have included a table of descriptors of one zine held at six different libraries. Each record for Doris by Cindy Ovenrack Crabb is notably different from the others. Some contain narratives in addition to basic metadata. The metadata do not always agree, even with regard to the author’s name. Doris, a serial with several distinctly titled issues, is variously cataloged as a serial and a monograph. For a zine like Doris, ZineCat will serve as a hub for information, connecting but not necessarily overlaying serial, monograph, and finding aid records.