Saturday, 28 March 2015

UK Zine Librarians

Calling all UK zine librarians, or anyone working with zine collections/libraries regardless of professional status.

Together with Leila Kassir, from LCC, we have set up a discussion group which is open to anyone in the UK working with zine libraries and zine collections. You can access the UK Zine Librarians group here. The mailing list is aimed at anybody working with zines in their library collections, from academic libraries, museum and gallery libraries, public libraries, as well as community grassroots zine collections.

I like to keep my work life and real life separate, but it has a habit of overlapping when it comes to zines. By day I'm a librarian at a library belonging to a major art institution and by night I'm a zinester. My library is developing the zine collections within our special collections and part of my role is acquiring, cataloguing, and providing access to these zines.  

Zines have a habit of cropping up in the libraries I work at. In my last role as Deputy Librarian at the Stuart Hall Library, I established a zine collection together with Sonia Hope, and set up the most amazing zine collection in the library.

There are so many challenges as a librarian working with zine collections and there isn't a great deal of support in the UK. Librarians working in academic, research, and specialist libraries will have access to decent library management systems (budget allowing), and will hopefully have staff to select, catalogue, and provide access to zines (um yeah, if you have a dream budget).Although quite often librarians who are unfamiliar with zines have difficulties knowing how to identify zines, as well as knowing how to catalogue and provide access to these materials as other library collections can take priority, and without this subject knowledge, zine collections can be deaccessioned, or remain invisible to the public. And in grassroots organisations there are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable staff/volunteers, but there is less likely to be a budget for a library management system or an online catalogue, as well as cataloguing standards, classification guides and procedures for preserving zines. 

Leila and I set up the UK Zine Librarians group to share resources, knowledge, and discussions across the field in the hopes of strengthening communication across this small community and sharing our skills. We have found a lot of the resources available for zine librarians to have a strong North American bias and wanted to develop our own conversations. We haven't defined the term 'librarian' as we don't want to base this on professional status or qualifications. Anyone working with zine collections and zine libraries is welcome to join the discussion group over at our jiscmail here or follow us on twitter

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