I’m sorry to have missed our final session of the semester, but I’ve been battling bronchitis ever since standing in the park on a rainy May morning. I thought I’d share a bit about my final project even though I had to miss the presentations.
My tool is a little bit of this mixed with a dash of that, inspired by giants like this and rolled up in some aspirations for more free software for library use. It’s inspired not only by the work that zine librarians have been doing at unconferences for some time, but also by alternative and underground materials at large. My work to make alternative print materials accessible reaches into all the parts of my academic life, and is a main motivation for me to study and contribute to the field of librarianship as well into print culture scholarship.
Ideally, this tool I have proposed for this class would be used not only to locate the physical copies of zines, pamphlets and other items we might think of as ephemeral. This union catalog would also draw together an unconnected sea of metadata already on the web, and potentially be a home for digital collections. Further, it would span both institutional (i.e. lions out front) and independent libraries (i.e. in garden sheds, infoshops or dining rooms) and work for both trained and barefoot librarians alike.
The most difficult thing about putting this project together for our class was that this project is not entirely imaginary. I have been a part of conversations about a union catalog that could be used to connect zine libraries at a few conferences, and I have been talking with folks from other (non-zine) collections about how they create and organize rich metadata for their collections. The thing that plagued me as I constructed this final project was whether I have the space and time–or anyone else does–to get this thing accomplished, even with funding.
It would do so much for so many folks working with alternative collections to have a free or open source software program that could be implemented and updated by the community, as well as a tool that could be used by trained catalogers and people’s librarians alike.
So the part of the conversation that I am really disappointed I missed in class is the same thing I am now asking myself about this project: will these initial seeds bear any fruit for any of us? Will any of you create the tools you have proposed, or apply for a grant with your project proposal?
Thanks for a great semester everyone!