Sunday, January 19, 2020

QZL in January

We are back on tour!

We are also holding our first public queer zine cataloguing party Sunday 26th January 1 - 3pm, London! This is open to anyone interested in joining the QZL cataloguing collective. You can learn about how we catalogue as we go through our cataloguing practice together. It's a good starting point for anyone wanting to get involved with QZL or wanting to know some of the basics of zine cataloguing. This session is aimed at LGBTQIA+ community members. If you are an ally then please consider offering your space so that more queer volunteers can take part.

Our cataloguing party is free to attend but places are limited so booking is essential. You can book a place here.

We'll be holding more cataloguing parties throughout the year so look out for those. If you can't attend then you can always find our cataloguing manual online here as well as our collection development policy if you're interested in learning about how it all works.

The rest of our tour dates can be found over on our tour page. We are now planning summer/Autumn tour dates for the rest of this year and hope to be coming to a town near you soon. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Solidarity forever

Yesterday we said goodbye to Norwich Millennium Library where Queer Zine Library has been in residence for the past month. 

We checked the zines back in yesterday. It was our first experience displaying the zines in such a public setting for such a long period of time. As we prepped the zines for the tour we discussed what would happen if zines went missing or became damaged and prepared ourselves for the idea that our zine collection wouldn't be pristine forever as we decided very early on to prioritise access over preservation at all times. We hated the idea of zines only being accessible in a sealed off display case, or in invigilated reading rooms requiring photo id and an appointment. when zines are meant to be read and shared and handled freely. We were so happy that thanks to amazing hosts and amazing readers, all our zines came back safe and sound, making us want to do even more tours with longers residencies and collaborations. We were so happy with the ways the zines were made so accessible to everyone regardless of their knowledge of zines or diy queer culture.

Apryl and Rachel from Norwich Millennium Library 

We are half way through our first tour and it's been just an incredible experience taking these queer zines to different spaces and making them accessible in ways we hadn't imagined. Through displays and workshops and residencies we've had the privilege of sharing parts of the queer zine library with new readers and makers. We've also been able to develop the collection with lots of new donations and had lots of good chats and discussions about the role of self-publishing and connecting with our lgbtqia histories.

Anonymous zine contribution created during our zine making workshop

We are very grateful to all our hosts so far, and to everyone who has attended workshops, come to browse the collection, or made zines and other works in response to the zine library. It's an incredible privilege to be trusted to collect these zines and to make them accessible. Collaborating with libraries and artist and zine makers and activists and readers on this tour has been such a wonderful positive experience and we can't wait to do more!

Some of the backlog we'll be tackling at our cataloguing party

The zines are now back in storage in London and will be back on tour from January with our upcoming public zine cataloguing party before heading back out on the road.  Thanks to all our amazing cataloguing volunteers who have helped shaped our cataloguing manual and make our collections searchable so far.

If you're interested in hosting the queer zine library in your space, community centre, venue, library, workshop, exhibition etc then please do get in touch, we are eager to start planning our summer queer zine library tour!

This week has felt particularly dark in the wake of the UK general election and we want to continue to use our rage and compassion for activism, and to collaborate with other lgbtqia groups and spaces and lift each other up. In these dark times are are grateful for radical diy self-publishing as tools of activism, to share our stories and ideas and strategies for survival in our own voices. We wrote about this in our collection development manifesto:

Queer Zine Library is political. In times of fascism we want zines to be viewed as vital living breathing tools for self-preservation, activism, and a rejection of capitalist mainstream publishing, rather than just as art objects which Look Nice.  

Activism and mutual aid and organising outside of mainstream politics is always vital to dismantle oppression and we will be channelling our rage and compassion with grassroots queer groups and spaces and actions who are already doing the heavy lifting. Solidarity to everyone feeling fearful, angry, and overwhelmed right now. Lets find ways to keep using that energy to fight and support and survive.

See you in 2020. Solidarity forever

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

On tour

Queer Zine Library is going on tour!

QZL tour poster by Kyle Gibbens

Queer Zine Library doesn't have a permanent home and when the zines aren't on tour the collections are held in storage for QZL volunteers to work on cataloguing and sorting. After a summer of cataloguing, the zines are now ready to go on a road trip!

November 10th Creative Resistance @ Rainbow Hub, Brighton *Booking essential*
November 18th - December 16th @ Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library, Norwich

January 23rd QZL Cataloguing party @ The Canvas CafĂ© Community Hub, London *Booking essential*
February 1st - 29th @ The Outside Project LGBTIQ+ Community Centre, London
March 8th Eat Up Collective @ The Exchange, Bristol

We are now working on organising our summer 2020 tour.
Get in touch to host the library in your town

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Queer Zine Library Catalogue

As we get ready to take the Queer Zine Library on our first tour, QZL volunteers have been working on our online catalogue, making our collections searchable.

Here you can search our titles and browse the collections. Having a good online catalogue is super important, particularly when the library has no permanent home. When Queer Zine Library isn't on tour the collection is held in storage. Our catalogue allows the collection to be searchable at all times, to promote the zines we hold, and to help people discover zines in the library, requesting specific titles for workshops, displays, and residencies. 

At the moment only 1/4 of the library is catalogued, but we are adding zines and cataloguing the collections all the time. Also cataloguing takes time! Cataloguing is a collective activity carried out by QZL volunteers in collaboration with zine makers as we attempt to represent zines in ways which are meaningful to both zine makers and zine readers.

Over the last two months we've been holding cataloguing parties, inviting volunteers to come and have a go at cataloguing, no experience needed, just a love of queer zines! 
Together we created a queer zine library cataloguing manual This manual offers some basic cataloguing guidelines specific to QZL based on our library system, collections focus, and the skills and knowledge of our amazing volunteers. Armed with this manual and hardcore zine love we began our cataloguing parties, encouraging cataloguing as a group activity, with lots of chats about the keywords we were using, creating descriptions based on zines makers own words, and examining our own bias.

We asked QZL volunteers to share experiences of cataloguing the collection and shine a spotlight on some of our favourite zines we've catlogued so far:


Cataloguing at QZL has been really rewarding-I've catalogued items before in my job as a library assistant but I've never had the chance to work with zines, so this has been a great opportunity for me! As a queer person who makes, collects and wants to work with zine/small or alternative press collections in libraries, volunteering at QZL has been really wonderful; I'm really passionate about making libraries as accessible and diverse as possible, so working with a DIY catalogue without the fear of inundating users with library jargon is really refreshing.

Cataloguing this kind of material is always really interesting-I've been able to find really special zines from zinesters I may never have heard of before and about topics I may never have looked into otherwise; firm favourites include Kirsty Fife's 'Hard Femme' series and pretty much anything created by Daikon collective. 

Creating the catalogue has been challenging at times considering the nature of zines- they often don't contain the information you'd find in a published work (author, date and place of publication etc.), so there's often a lot of research involved. Additionally there's often also ethical issues to consider (e.g. with inclusive terminology in subject tagging)- but working collaboratively with the QZL family through discussion, debate & with an arguably excessive amount of snacks has made it easier to solve any issues we find! Brainstorming ideas and making decisions together has definitely made constructing the catalogue far more manageable and a really enjoyable experience.


I had no experience of cataloguing prior to joining QZL volunteers. I learned a great deal the first session about library cataloguing in general and about how the process had been adapted (using cheaper cataloguing platforms and adjusting the codes and tags we use) for the zine library. 
I wanted to volunteer with QZL primarily because I wanted to support the zine library (as a queer bisexual genderqueer-ish woman I think it is an important resource) and also because I was interested in learning more about the process and the added benefit of delicious snacks…

I really liked the A-Z of Biphobia Zine and the Queer Sailors series. I also love that the library cataloguing instructions come in the form of a zine, it was great to be able to take that home and if I didn’t have a little zine collection of my own already, I bet it would have been lovely to have that as someone’s first zine!

There are lots of challenges when cataloguing queer material; the main one being choosing the right categories, known as ‘tags’. These can be difficult to decide upon depending on how someone refers to something within a zine (if it’s an older zine they may use outdated language etc) or how the individual cataloguer interprets the themes of the zine and the contents. I think the way Holly has set up the cataloguing as a group where we bounce ideas off each other and maybe discuss some of our personal viewpoints and life experiences as reference points it makes the cataloguing more accurate and precise. It means we can avoid our own personal biases or prejudices, which is really important when some of the zines are very personal and/or political.

I am so grateful that the zine library exists and how it can help to raise visibility of different groups of people and individuals. Being involved in the cataloguing is important to me on a personal/emotional level because it is a way of connecting with my community in a different way than would normally be available. Getting to read the zines together is probably the best part!


Before cataloguing with Queer Zine Library, I had never catalogued anything before! I wanted to try something new, and liked the idea of doing it socially, and getting to meet new people, as it’s something I’ve found harder to do as I’ve gotten older. It’s made me think about how much time I could realistically give to other voluntary roles, in areas I enjoy and think are important, like LGBT+ History

I’ve catalogued a whole heap of zines that I’ve enjoyed reading afterwards! My most recent favourite is probably ‘Rumours’- it’s an anonymous exploration of the gay scene in my home town area of Thanet. It’s made the place look so much more exciting than I remember it being growing up!
I really enjoy talking with others at the cataloguing parties about what tags to use when cataloguing zines, particularly ones that don’t have a lot of text – it can be really challenging, because you want to respect what the author is trying to convey, but sometimes it’s not clear or obvious, and it’s led to some really interesting conversations about people’s perceptions and how how we all identify with zines differently.


In my day job I'm a librarian and I have experience of cataloguing zines but I've often felt frustrated with the limitations of zine cataloguing based on cataloguing rules and standardised language depending on the institution. I was excited to try and think about cataloguing as more of a collective activity and to feature voices from the queer community with no previous library experience as part of the library catalogue. No cataloguing is ever perfect and zines are always at odds with some of the ideas behind cataloguing, but it's been fun to think of it from a collective perspective and hopefully try to make these zines more visible. Having a catalogue is also going to be really useful for us as we start to plan future tours and zine residencies and will help us manage the circulation side of things, keeping an eye on what zines are on loan at any given time.

One of the zines I've really loved cataloguing is Homospective which was produced for the last ever Homocrime event. I've been part of the UK queer diy scene both as a musician and as part of diy queer punk collectives, and these histories disappear too easily, and so it's really exciting to see these kinds of zines continuing the legacy. Homocrime meant a lot to me, and so I felt super sentimental cataloguing this zine.

We've had some really interesting discussions about the ways we describe zines, the tags that we use, and we've come up with collective solutions around problems of deadnaming in some specific catalogue records. We avoid a one-size fits all approach and I'm very grateful that we are able to challenge each other, reach out to zinesters where possible, and consider viewpoints other than our own during the process. Also we eat a lot of really great snacks, I'm only in it for the food to be honest.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Host Queer Zine Library in your town

Queer Zine Library is on the move! We are a roaming zine library and as soon we started to grow the collections we knew we wanted it to tour and travel and grow in community spaces, libraries, venues and events for queer communities to access across the UK.

Queer Zine Library doesn't haved a fixed permanent home. When it's not on tour it lives in storage where QZL volunteers work on cataloguing the collections. The way to access the collections is to find us at events and spaces where we bring the zine library out to be read and used and handled.

Interested in bringing Queer Zine Library to your town? Community groups and spaces, museums, galleries, and libraries can loan part of the zine library for up to 3 months for anyone to access.

We've added a bookings page here, and we've already received lots of requests, so if you are interested in bringing queer zines to your venue or event then get in touch! Our collections are currently in storage while QZL volunteers get ready to launch the online catalogue, but from November QZL will be on the move.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Queer Zine Library in Brighton

This week the Queer Zine Library will be heading to Brighton. We will be there all this week as part of the Radical Print research group who are hosting a series of workshops and discussions. Full schedule and workshop sign up page coming soon!

We'll be hosting a queer zine making workshop, looking at vital alternative forms of publishing during times of fascism. When mainstream media is coming for our trans siblings, what diy print media can we create to soothe and heal and lift each other up.

The library will also be open all week for anyone to come and read and use. Check our twitter for more updates. Workshop places are fully booked but there will be some extra places and info on our twitter this week.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Loud n Queer

This week Queer Zine Library is heading over to Loud n Queer! - a night of diy queer punk at New River Studios, London.

Featuring Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something + Irn Brunette + Breakup Haircut

We'll be bringing a small selection of the library for anyone to read queer zines, plus supplies for anyone to make their own queer zines and donate them to the library. More zine libraries at gigs please!