Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

TinyCat’s June Library of the Month: Queer Zine Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

We celebrated Pride Month by interviewing an amazing mobile library fondly known as the Queer Zine Library (QZL). QZL Librarian Holly Casio was kind enough to field my questions, and it was a joy learning more about what they do. Check them out:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Queer Zine Library is a diy mobile library celebrating radical LGBTQIA+ self-publishing. The library is volunteer led and is run by a collective of queer zine makers and readers and librarians. In normal times the library is on tour nine months of the year, taking up space in community spaces, libraries, punk shows, queer venues, and anywhere we are invited. We believe that zines are powerful and should be shared, read, held, and handled as much as possible.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

Queer Zine Library is first and foremost a resource for our LGBTQIA+ communities. Our histories and lived experiences are documented in these pamphlets, zines, and comics rather than in academic texts or ‘proper’ published works. Zines allow us to share our knowledge, skills, and experiences with others in our own voices and it has been wonderful to see readers connect with the collections. While not having a permanent space ourselves might feel like a disadvantage, we feel that being a mobile library gives us power. It avoids us becoming too London-centric, and means that our collections can travel and grow and are ultimately shaped by the next new location.

When we are in queer spaces we offer zine making sessions and zine readings as a way for our communities to engage with the zine collection but also create and add to it as well.We want our readers to become the makers and add to the collections as much as possible.

Over the last year supporting our queer communities has been more challenging as our tours were put on hold. We were due to host a zine maker in residency programme, we had a full tour planned, and suddenly travel and touch, the two things our library is based on, suddenly became dangerous. We moved online, hosting virtual zine readings and exhibitions. Our library catalogue became more important than ever before to showcase our collections and we were able to provide links to digital zines directly from our catalogue records to allow access to a small part of the collections during lockdown.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

It’s so hard to pick a favourite zine! Here are a few of our collective’s favourites though:

Building towards an autonomous trans healthcare by Power Makes us Sick (PMS): PMS is a feminist collective focusing on autonomous health care practices and networks. This zine collects ideas, actions, and resources around autonomous trans health care. “Trans people have always been a network of health knowledge because trans healthcare has historically and is still criminalised, incredibly researched and pathologised. Therefore we turn to one another.”

Homospective by Homocrime: A zine produced on the occasion of Nomo Crime, the final event organised by the queer diy collective Homocrime. Homocrime was a diy indiepunk party and record label for queers of all genders & sexualities that happened in London from 2003-2006. This zine contains flyer & singles club images plus a list of events, press cuttings & contributions from organisers, bands, and attendees. The zine is dedicated to the memory of Andy Roberts, friend and collaborator.

Rumours by Margate Queer Zine: Rumours is an anonymous zine series sharing stories, anecdotes, photography, and maps of the queer side of Margate. Issue 1 reviews local gay pubs, drag bars, hotels, and sex shops.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

Queer Zine Library is unfunded and volunteer-led which means that our activities depend on donations and fundraising. We are a very small collective and we all have full-time jobs, but the library means so much to all of us. Our dream is to have a mobile library van and maybe the ability to magically learn how to drive so that we can properly take these collections out for people to see and read where they belong.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

TinyCat is very easy and intuitive to use. Some of our collective are trained library workers with cataloguing experience, but the majority of our collective haven’t worked with libraries previously. TinyCat makes it very easy for all our team to catalogue without it feeling overwhelming or complicated.

The tagging system is probably the most useful to us. Having the ability to separate the media type and the subject tags is really useful. All of our collections are in the form of zines and we can use the media drop-down to create lots of niche subgenres and formats of zines without us having to take up space in the tags to do this. Being able to build our own queer thesaurus in our subject tags is also really useful. In the future we’d love to see this feature developed so we can create ‘see’ and ‘see also’ links to non-preferred or similar headings.

Great suggestion, I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on this. We also have the “Comments” field (aka “Local notes” in TinyCat Detail Pages) that might be useful for added notes or content that you’d like to include on your records.

Want to learn more about Queer Zine Library? Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, visit their website here, and check out their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


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