Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Digital Humanities


Lisa Rhody


Maura Smale

Subject Categories

Cataloging and Metadata | Digital Humanities


zines, union catalog, digital humanities, metadata, library science, cataloging


Lauren Kehoe and Jenna Freedman have been working on the Zine Union Catalog, aka ZineCat or ZUC, since their Introduction to Digital Humanities course in Spring, 2017: MALS 75500, Digital Humanities Methods and Practices. ZineCat is the home of a union catalog dedicated to zines. A union catalog is a resource where libraries and other cultural institutions that collect materials can share cataloging and holdings information from their individual collections. The most familiar union catalog is probably WorldCat which is used to locate books, journals, CDs, DVDs, and other materials in the world’s libraries. ZineCat facilitates researchers' discovery of zine holdings by searching a single catalog search interface that aggregates information from several collections, helps catalogers copy zine records that are included in ZineCat, and facilitates the lending of materials between libraries.

Zines are self­-produced and self­-published literature that often feature counter­cultural, political, and artistic content. Typically zines are produced in small print runs, and are often distributed directly by the author or through “distros” (i.e., specialized distributors of zines, crafts, and art prints). Zines provide a first­hand, intimate, and authoritative account of social, political, and art historical movements and provide evidence of knowledge production and dissemination within radical, queer, and other subculture communities. They are used by scholars as primary source documents on a range of topics, and are regarded as a critical record of third wave feminism and the riot grrrl movement, punk rock and the punk aesthetic, popular culture and fandom, and local history in colleges, local scenes, and communities (small and large) around the world.

ZineCat serves educators, researchers, creators, librarians, archivists, and anyone in the general public with an interest in zines. Their ephemeral nature makes it difficult to identify where zines are collected as well as makes cataloging zine consistently across collections very difficult. Additionally, the information ecosystem grows ever complex as more information is produced both physically and online. Furthermore, because zines exist in a countercultural space, they have historically been collected and circulated first by independent collectors, then zine libraries and activist centers, followed later by research institutions. Over the last fifteen to twenty years, public libraries, special collections, and academic research libraries have begun collecting zines as scholarly resources as well as part of leisure reading collections. This hybrid environment of zine collections translates into dispersed and sometimes erratic mechanisms for access (not all libraries describe material in the same, standardized way).