UIZL London Meetup minutes

In October we had a long-overdue meet-up in London. Jessa Mockridge very kindly took minutes which are shared below.

As it was almost 2 years since a lot of us last met there was a LOT to get through and it turns out we had a lot to say about cataloguing!

UK and Ireland Zine Librarians Meeting Minutes

Tate Britain, Clore Studio, London. 5th October 2017 1pm-4pm

In attendance:

Holly Callaghan (Tate Library)

Nicholas Brown (Christies, formerly Iniva SHL –views expressed his own- and ARLIS)

Jessa Mockridge (Central Saint Martins & Goldsmiths)

Stephanie Moran (Iniva’s Stuart Hall Library)

Maria Depaula-Vázquez and Gail Chester (Feminist Library)

Gina Baber (LCC)

Nicola Cooke and Loesja Vigour (Wellcome Collection Library)

Debbie Cox (British Library)


  • Introductions to ourselves and our own involvement with zines
  • Went through the minutes from the previous UIZL meet up at the British Library Conference Centre, 7 November 2015.
  • Going forward, let’s meet more regularly.  The next meet-up should happen somewhere else in the UK/Ireland (not London).

Zines Newsletter

  • We followed up a discussion from the previous meeting about setting up an annual zines newsletter similar to ‘Sarah Bodman’s Book Arts Newsletter’.

UIZL directory
Our zine library directory is now live



Zines Directory

  • UK and Ireland Zine Libraries Directory is now online thanks to Holly! Directory contains collections scope, location, info about accessibility, contacts and links.
  • https://uizl.wordpress.com/uk-and-ireland-zine-libraries-directory/
  • There is an online form to add collections to the directory. Directory designed to be a resource for people who make zines to sell and donate (as well as for researchers / anyone wanting to visit).
  • As the directory grows we can have more people managing content. The aim is to use blog posts to document future projects, share meeting notes etc.
  • ‘UK and Ireland Zine Librarians’ exist as a JISC academic email list. Since there are barriers to an academic list, we also have a Facebook page.https://www.facebook.com/groups/722599314536775/ 
  • ACTION: Holly to share link to Facebook page (see link above)


UIZL donations box
Our UIZL donations box at Weirdo Zine Fest

Zines Donation Box

  • At Weirdo Zine Fest (very cool zine fest for queer / feminist / POC / disability / fat activism / politics etc) UIZL set up a box hosted by Leila Kassir to collect over 50 zines donations for specific libraries. These libraries had expressed interest earlier in the email list and provided a 1 page poster to Leila outlining the scope of their zine collections to help direct donations to the right zine library collections.
  • Problem with cost involved for posting items to libraries after the event. We discussed libraries having zines donated to them pay the cost of postage.
  • A calendar of upcoming world-wide zine fests and fairs would be a useful resource for planning future UIZL donations box. There is an extensive (but not exhaustive) Google doc (last updated July 2017) that @fanzines has put together: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1D16yp3jX5FgbRp18-uhsZzENtXR1vEzpR0uAQtP6AVg/edit#gid=1378075456
  • ACTION: Nicola to send around (see link above). Wellcome Library to begin calendar. Holly to add a link to the blog.


  • We will install a donations box where possible at fairs and have the responsibility rolling depending on who is in attendance.
  • Participating libraries can also include on their poster if they have budget to spend on zines so that zine makers can prioritise donating to DIY libraries.
  • We will design ‘info cards’ for zine makers to fill out including: title, year, price and contact details. These will serve as ‘suggestions for purchase’ cards where zine makers can recommend their titles for purchase by libraries with budgets.
  • ACTION: Create a basic info card template to give to zine makers at upcoming zine fairs to accompany the zine donation box.


  • We discussed a gesture such as badges that say ‘You have donated a zine to …’. This would better acknowledge the generous contributions of zine makers to our collections. Asking for donations ethically is to acknowledge donations.
  • Another option for ethical exchange is swapping. We have copies of the UK Zine Librarians zine issue 1 available to swap in exchange for zine donations to collections. Holly can send these out to whoever is hosting the donations box at each zine fair for any swaps.
  • Perhaps a good and visible spot for the Zine Donation Box at zines fests and fairs is on the ‘swap table’ – generally a kind of free-for-all space. (This gets around having to pay for a stall and being anchored to it).
  • Do we as librarians have any recourse to funding opportunities that could be used to support zinesters? Either to buy zines or for paid opportunities for workshops run by zinesters in our collections or residencies. Money pot to give back to makers instead of always relying on donations. 
  • ACTION: to research funding opportunities available for library workers and collections that might be able to support zinesters


Long Beach Zine Libraries UnConference 2017
Long Beach Zine Libraries unConference 2017. Photo via zinelibraries.info


Longbeach Library Conference – ‘Zine Librarian unConference’ report

  • Nicola and Loesja from Wellcome Library attended the unConference 4-5 August 2017, California and reported back. You can also find schedule and workshops here: http://zinelibraries.info/wiki/zluc-2017-lgb/
  • The network of zine librarians and collections is very strong in US (fyi). The tone was informal and relaxed. It hosted not just librarians and libraries but lots of zinesters and people who were over that weekend to attend a huge Zine Fair. The Unconference was able to bring in diverse voices, eg. People of Colour Zine Project and ‘Barefoot’ (grassroots) organisations.
  • Jenna Freedman, Zine Queen, Barnard Library, New York spoke
  • were visible at the event and we linked these back to our idea of gifting badges to zinesters that donate zines to libraries as a possible code of ethics.
  • There were talks and workshops on topics that were suggested in advance or on the day and people volunteered to facilitate. Topics included: starting zine collections, developing zine collections, funding and housing for zine collections and cataloguing. Minutes for every talk are available online. The International community of zines librarians intends to share, exchange and talk more. The unConference made use of Google Hangouts and Skype for people that were unable to attend. All documents were written and edited live and open for anyone to join.
  • Milo Queer who works with the Zine Archive Project spoke about ‘Zinecore’ http://zinelibraries.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Zinecore-Zine-Flats1.pdf
  • Barnard Library working with Barnard College students developed documentation of creating a shared catalogue using Excel spreadsheets which are easily transferred into a catalogue-like type thing. A language problem arose. The collective, universally accessible ethics of cataloguing honoured without named authorities.
  • The unConference ethos was especially hot on access and resources being for everyone.

Zine Cataloguing

We discussed issues and challenges regarding cataloguing zines such as:

Cataloguing zines with no clear title/author

  • Difficulty of cataloguing zines without dates, authors and location details. Zines are not designed with librarians in mind and that’s ok!
  • Zine Librarianship is a balance between honouring original sentiment of the material and preserving the material. We juggle respecting: the person who made it, the content and findability.

Acquiring zines with consent from zine makers

  • It is important to ensure consent from zine makers included in collections especially collections of big institutions. Some collections present a consent form when buying zines to ensure zine makers are comfortable with their work being held.

Cataloguing with and without library management systems

  • Library Management Systems such as Koha have an optional function for library users to tag resources. It is a great way to include zine makers’ self-identified subject tags. When acquiring zines from zine makers we can collect consent and self-identified subject tags directly from them. (CSM did this at DIY Cultures). In terms of access it is important that the zines are findable by their own terms.
  • UK and Ireland Zine Librarians are diverse in that some of us are formally trained and others are volunteers. Gail spoke about Feminist Library volunteers using Koha to suck in catalogue templates from National Library of Scotland. There are no templates for zines.
  • In the absence of Library Management software, many grassroots organisations use Excel spreadsheets or other adhoc methods of cataloguing and classifying.

Providing subject headings/tags for zines

  • Zine cataloguing severely limited by Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). There are no headings for contemporary issues such as social media or trans politics.
  • At Tate they use LCSH in addition to an internal subject headings index. This helps to alleviate the politically problematic elements of Library of Congress and to incorporate useful search terms. A lot of diy libraries will also use their own preferred headings instead of LCSH.
  • Most zine collections use the main access points book template in RDA for zines (rather than the serials) because they are mostly single title.
  • Other strategies include heavy use of ‘note fields’ to get across what it is instead of tagging, but there is a need for good subject headings for cataloguing zines.
  • We discussed the possibility of suggesting new terms for LCSH. 
  • ACTION: Debbie (British Library) to find out what evidence is needed to support new candidate terms.

Zine Cataloguing Working Group

  • Proposal for UK and Ireland Zines Librarians to make a guide ourselves that incorporates basic cataloguing principles as a jargon free resource that everyone working with zines can use. The toolkit will be a collaboration between librarians and grassroots / community organisations.
  • The toolkit could include a template of a ‘perfect record’ as a fool proof for cataloguing zines.
  • Another proposal to run zine cataloguing workshops in the UK. We have resources, we can create spaces. Already existing spaces would be up for hosting our workshops for example DIY Cultures.
  • Fyi ‘Salford Zine Library’ is actually in Manchester
  • ACTION: Gauge interest across the group in forming a cataloguing working group. The group would ideally incorporate those with library training as well as those without in order to create accessible guidelines/toolkits/workshops


UIZL zine
Issue 1 of our UIZL zine

Next issue of UIZL zine / newsletter

  • UIZL zine / newsletter, another call out for issue two on the theme of cataloguing
  • We can provide some answers, how librarians catalogue but also how grassroots / community organisations can catalogue with the resources they have eg. Using Excel.
  • Decolonising Cataloguing! The zine can include DIY toolkits but also radical speculative cataloguing outside of Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Do library users notice subject headings in records? What do they think?
  • An anthology of terrible examples of offensive tags / or alternatively a utopian system or an imaginative system of what else might happen in the future of cataloguing ie. Barnard way.
  • Would it be ideal to amend all problematic records? This is a time and money sensitive priority. Without re-classifying everything, what can we salvage? If library users aren’t bothered, should we prioritise reclassifying?
  • Women’s Health Collection from Feminist Library given to Wellcome and they are thinking about recataloguing the entire collection.
  • ACTION: Holly to circulate call-out for contributions to UIZL zine #2 on the theme of cataloguing.

Other resources

Possible UIZL Conference

  • Last meet up there was chat about putting on a Zines Conference, considering capacity, possibly better to jump on with existing structures / conferences.
  • Lets do workshops and skills shares at Zines fairs, Radical Book Fair, Anarchist Book Fair
  • Move from a conference to workshops at zines fairs seems much more in line with the ethos of zines.
  • The Radical Collections Conference at Senate House Library 3 March 2017 was amazing! See the program here: http://www.senatehouselibrary.ac.uk/exhibitions-and-events/events/radical-collections-radicalism-and-libraries-and-archives
  • Siobhan Britton spoke about zines and ethics of keeping them at institutions. Other topics covered included whiteness of the profession and barriers to becoming a library professional. 

Action points

  • Communicate who will be present at zine events to take responsibility for the donations box.
  • Create a ‘suggestions for purchase’ card template.
  • Research funding opportunities available for library workers and collections that might be able to support zinesters
  • Debbie, British Library, to look into terms for candidating Library of Congress Headings, new terms
  • Working group to form to make Cataloguing guide and workshop without any library jargon
  • Holly to put out call out for UIZL zine on the theme of cataloguing



  • Feminist & Women’s Libraries & Archives Network (FLA) have a meeting Sat 7 October at the Feminist Library 12-5pm.
  • Wellcome Zine Club, 12:00 – 13:00, an hour over lunch break, Wednesday 25 October 2017.
  • ARLIS conference next year 2018 open to queering the archives, the deadline for proposals is December. A ‘fee structure’ should help to address barriers to being able to attend.

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