Zine Union Catalog: Authors and Catalogers as Collaborators

As Jenna indicated, we will be working in parallel to, and in correspondence with, one another for our final projects and working towards a shared goal of approaching and interpreting our ongoing work with the Zine Union Catalog (ZUC) through our use of annotation, collaborative inquiry, and critical analysis of authorship within the scope of our experience with, and approaches to, digital humanities tools and theories.  We have been fortunate enough to work with each on our DH Praxis project throughout our time at the CUNY GC which allows us to practically implement our theoretical and technical knowledge of the digital humanities into our ZUC.

For the final project in Doing Things with Novels, we have decided to address the role libraries and cultural institutions play in authoring catalog records that aid in the discoverability of resources.  Most specifically, we will focus on the role that the librarians play in aiding with zine discoverability and will look for examples within our union catalog prototype that are shared amongst the current contributing collections (ABC No Rio, Barnard Zine Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Denver Zine Library, and the Queer Zine Archive Project).  What kind of authority role do catalogers, and more specifically zine catalogers, play in the discovery and understanding of zines?  What similarities and differences are there within the catalog records and how do these differences contribute to the understanding and interpretations we have of zines?  How are the discrepancies and differences mediated, if at all? How will the Zine Union Catalog grapple with, and harmonize, the metadata?

To do this work, Jenna and I will use a variety of tools to collaborate and create the final project.  To start, we created a doc in our Google Drives to collaborate on the final project proposal and we’ve used marginal annotation to have a conversation as our thoughts and ideas evolve.  Jenna and I have tried a variety of tools (i.e. Google Drive, Slack, Redmine, Open Science Framework, CUNY Academic Commons) for collaborating with various degrees of success and utility and have found that for much of the work we do, Google has been the most useful in the drafting and planning phases.  However, additional tools we will use in our final project include hypothes.is, WordPress, Tableau, and Zotero

I anticipate that we will continue to use our ZineCat Blog to communicate with our classmates, the greater community following the Zine Union Catalog’s development, as well as to annotate each other’s work on this final project.  As part of our collaboration and reflectiveness on skills/theories learned in Doing Things with Novels, Jenna and I will use hypothes.is to annotate our contributions (on the ZineCat Blog) as a part of the final project. I’m interested to see how we annotate other online texts and materials as we move through this project, too (i.e. zinecat.org, the catalog records of ZineCat’s contributors, the scholarship we discover in relation to our project during the literature review component, etc.).  

Zines are a very creative, and sometimes hard to describe, resource.  Also, very different kinds of institutions collect zines and their approaches to description can vary widely.  I plan to do a literature review on current practices, and understanding of, what catalogers do and how they create metadata (both within traditional libraries and non-traditional).  I’d also like to do a lit review on zine description, so I will look to the many subscription databases I have access to first, and then expand my research net to include resources available outside of the privileged licensed content.

My first search included a keyword search for “cataloger AND author” in Ebsco’s Library & Information Science Source provided by NYU Libraries.  There are 265 results and a screenshot of some of the articles I’ve found can be seen below, but for a more comprehensive list see my Zotero library here.  I’ve found these resources, so far, on zine librarianship and zine cataloging. I am excited by the amount of information about there and plan to make the literature review a big part of my work for the final project.  Whether I get to reading everything is another story, but I am also currently enrolled in Independent Study for my ITP certificate completion and should’ve done a literature review on zine librarianship and zine cataloging as a part of the work for that course, so I’m happy to have dual application for the work I’m conducting this semester.  Also, based on the literature review, I’ve identified many other aspects of research interests including how catalogers are active on social media, cataloging as outreach, metadata literacy, and the history of cataloging, to name a few that have arisen from the first foray into the literature.

To wrap up, I was uncertain at first how Jenna and I would incorporate our work on the Zine Union Catalog into a theoretical literature course especially since I’ve been grappling quite a bit with the theoretical underpinnings of the course readings and discussions.  Additionally, the zine medium is very different from the other literary texts we’ve been engaging with this semester, so it was a leap for me to make the immediate connection of how zines can be used within the context of this course, but through discussion and collaboration with Jenna, it’s become much clearer.  Jenna’s experience as a cataloger is more extensive than mine, as is her experience with working, and making, zines, so I know that she will bring an awesome amount of professional and personal knowledge to this project. I hope that my contributions will include a critical analysis of the digital humanities applications and processes of this project, including the use of annotating tools, and thorough research into cataloging as authorship. I am thrilled that she and I have been able to look at the many aspects of the Zine Union Catalog through different course lenses during our degree progress.  

One thought on “Zine Union Catalog: Authors and Catalogers as Collaborators

  1. This is great. Take a look at my comments to Jenna. Here I’ll just add that you might be interested in Liu’s work on the “transcendental database” (article here: http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/transcendental-data-toward-a-cultural-history-and-aesthetics-of-the-new-encoded-discourse/ and book here: http://liu.english.ucsb.edu/local-transcendence-essays-on-postmodern-historicism-and-the-database-catalogue-copy-table-of-contents/ ) as well as Kirschenbaum’s work on “forensic” imagination: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/mechanisms.

    K’s book traces the history of the database-driven media ecology we now live in to rise of the humble file cabinet/folder in the l.19thC, so it might be an interesting place to poke around, since you’re asking fundamental questions here about what it means to reduce the teeming, overdetermined mass of creative play represented by zines to orderly categorization. Might be fun to read Foucault’s riff on categorization and the “table” in his ORDER OF THINGS: https://foucault.info/documents/foucault.orderOfThings.en/ .

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