A brief list of literature on the Why’s and How’s of the cataloging of items of alternative press, independent press, micro press, small press, or zines.
Alternative Press Collective. (1984). Alternative Press Index. In S. Berman and J. P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative library literature 1982-83: A biennial anthology (168-170). Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.
“Originally, the Index was viewed as a tool to be used almost exclusively by activists. But as years went by, it came to be seen as a tool for academic researchers as well.” (APC, p. 170)
Bartel, J. (2004). From A to Zine: Building a winning zine collection in your library. Chicago: ALA.
See especially “Living Arrangements,” pp. 77-91.
“We decided that if we...did value the zine collection [at Salt Lake City Public Library] as much as we said we did, we should accord it the same respect given to other formats and make it accessible to patrons through the library database.” (Bartel, p. 85)
Berman, S. (1981). Access to Alternatives. In S. Berman, The Joy of Cataloging (124-148). Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.
“It’s not enough to simply acquire alternative and small press materials. They must also be made easily accessible to library users by means of intelligible, accurate, and generous cataloging.” (Berman, p. 124)
Berman advises the cataloger to offer (when cataloging alternative press materials): a generous amount of access points; notes describing the importance/nature of the presses themselves; ”added entries” under subtitles and catch phrases users might remember; and as many subject headings as apply. He further advocates the cataloger to “compose notes to clarify content, indicate special features, and show relationships to other works, persons, or groups.” (Berman, p. 129)
Berman, S. (2005, Oct.). Zine cataloging. Retrieved October 28, 2007, from
“My hope is that somewhere--perhaps at Ohio State or Salt Lake City Public--someone is confecting a mini-thesaurus of zine categories that might be proposed to LC--but in any event could be employed in-house by sizeable zine collections to permit more specific and helpful access to the zine cosmos.” (Berman)
Glazier, L. (1986). Libraries, small press, and 1984: A West Coast perspective. In S. Berman and J. P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative library literature 1984/85: A biennial anthology (87-88). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.
Writing on the “Creative Use of Data Base Technology”: “Once a publisher of merit is recognized, it is essential for the librarian to keep track of a.) relevant literary journals...b.) chapbooks and books published by the publisher and its peers c.) proposed publications of the publisher and d.) publications associated with the publisher by reference. Much of small press publishing is sporadic. In terms of ordering, tracking, and billing, it tends to be much easier to follow the larger publishers.” (Glazier, p.88) She advocates “design[ing] a program that allows tracking of publishers of interest.” (Glazier, p. 88)
Herrada, J. [with Aul, B., Smith, A., Basinski, M., and Trusky, T.] (1996). In S. Berman and J. P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative library literature, 1994/95: A biennial anthology (304-311). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.
“…problems arise in the process of collecting and organizing zines. Many zines confound the serials librarian because of the lack of interest by publishers in listing ‘normal’ information of issue number or date; virtually none carry an ISSN.” (Herrada, p. 304-305)
“The zine part of this collection [at New York State Library]…is arranged in alphabetical order by title. No other processing is done to this material. A researcher is welcome to go through the collection [of well over 10,000 zines] box by box….Maybe in some bright future electronic library, we’ll be able to make them more accessible than we can now.” (Aul, p. 306)
“Collecting the anti-literary poetry zine insurgence before it vanishes is vitally important for future research into the shifting centers and concerns of American poetry....To effectively collect the erratic, underground, and transitory publications, the [Poetry Collection at the SUNY/Buffalo Library] is involved in various networks of underground poets and editors. There are no directories of underground poetry zines.” (Basinski, p. 309)
Hsu, H. (2007, May 6). File Under Other. Retrieved October 28, 2007, from
“[Library] interest in zines is part of a broader move spearheaded by older activists like Sanford Berman...and James Danky....to encourage the acquisition of ‘alternative materials’--everything from regional, underground newspapers and self-published pamphlets to publisher catlogs and Internet newsletters....The very presence of these items exposes gaps in the holdings of a library and the flaws of current cataloging orthodoxies.” (Hsu)
Lee, E. (1996). Small publishers and big libraries: How bureaucracy and hugeness work to suppress non-mainstream ideas. In S. Berman and J. P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative library literature, 1994/95: A biennial anthology (91-94). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.
“Especially in small public or college libraries, the problems involved with cataloging books published by non-commercial presses often discourage the librarian from accepting gift [books] at all. Some large university libraries have a standing policy of refusing all gifts from small-press publishers....In recent years, libraries have come to rely more and more on shared cataloging....This is especially important for small press publishers since many libraries won’t even try to buy a copy of a book unless they can verify it in OCLC or Books in Print or Baker and Taylor Link....The point here is that libraries (and bookstores) need accurate title, author, and publisher information before they will even attempt to order a book.” (Lee, p. 91)
Scott, R. (1986). Cataloging Comics. In S. Berman (Ed.), Cataloging special materials: Critiques and innovations (50-70). Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.
“...cataloging of comic books will have to be done before large collections can be used efficiently. The universe of comics is so large that serious research can scarcely be expected to flourish until it is possible to guage the completeness and extent of a given collection in some detail.” (Scott, p. 50)
Thews, D. and Harvey, M.A. (1986). Libraries and the small press. In S. Berman and J. P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative library literature 1984/85: A biennial anthology (85-86). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.
“[In the Minneapolis Public Library,] we have treated our small press titles as we do paperbacks, not reinforcing or cataloging them, but adding a pocket and circulating them for the usual 3 or 4 weeks.” (Thews, p. 85)
West, C. (1982, May). Stalking the literary-industrial complex. American Libraries 13 (5), 298-301.
“[Librarians] can systematically budget 10-20-30 percent of whatever money and time we do have to support the free press....Librarians can ask local authors, publishers, teachers and other engage for help and information in various areas such as social change, ethnic, avant-garde, and feminist. Free press collecting is difficult. These people resources can ease the bibliographic and acquisition job.” (West, p. 299)
West, C. (1983, Sept. 1). The secret garden of censorship: Ourselves. Library Journal, 1651-1653.
“Of course, if you order the [alternative press] material and someone else ghettoizes it, mis- or under-catalogs it, the effect is still censorship.” (West, p. 1652)
White, M., Perratt, P., and Lawes, L. on behalf of ARLI/UK & Ireland Cataloguing and Classification Committee. (2006). Artists’ books: A cataloguers’ manual. London: ARLIS/UK & Ireland and The Courtauld Institute of Art.
“In some artists’ books the usual bibliographic elements may be absent, hidden, or disguised. The cataloguer should examine the artist’s book, seeking out the odd places where bibliographic information may be hidden. AARC2 instructs the cataloguer to base a description on...the title page or title page substitute. However artists’ books may have no title page or may have several.” (White, Perratt, and Lawes, p.7)
“Even if the cataloguer cannot find bibliographic information on the artist’s book all is not lost. The cataloguer has tools to help them....The artist may be willing to provide writte information about the book. This can be kept with the book and the cataloguer can quote from it. Furthermore many artists have websites detailing their works which can be a useful source of information....Booksellers are able to provide bibliographic details. Printed Matter, for example, has a website which includes title, statement of responsibility and publishing details, as well as a description of the book.” (White, Perratt, and Lawes, pp. 7-8)