Scholars' Lab Blog //Metadata for Zine Collecting
Blog //Metadata for Zine Collecting

I’ve been focused on internal-facing zine work the last couple years, due in part to Scholars’ Lab lacking public zine space due to our building’s renovation (but we’re open in a renovated new location as of earlier this year—come hang out!). I’ve added zines to my zine catalogue, both from acquiring physical copies and from researching zines in my areas of interest. I’ve improved my catalogue, moving to Airtable from a spreadsheet so that I can use a relational setup to interlink various reading data, and added/described/filled in many metadata fields per zine. I’ve written about this Airtable setup, and my multiple makerspace and data physicalization projects fueled by my database, in a forthcoming peer-reviewed article for a dh+lib special issue (Spring 2024!).

My zine catalogue currently has 127 zines, 68 of which are ones I can reprint to distribute for free to interested readers. (The rest are limited or no-access for various reasons, including some I purchased with personal funds and am not able to procure another copy of if a reader doesn’t return it.) I still have ~80 print zines not yet added to the catalogue, as well as ~300 bookmarked zines that also need adding.

Now that Scholars’ Lab has returned to a space with a large public area, I’m able to think more about how other people may use my catalogue and the print copies of zines I set out for folks to take from our public area. I put our rolling zine rack out for the library building’s Grand Opening last week (I had to reprint the Holler Network’s Appalachian Resistance Histories because it was so popular!). I also have some book/zine ledges and a brochure rack (4 x 6 holders perfect for mini-zines) that haven’ been hung up yet given various cautions about making holes in the renovated walls here.

My most recent work was cleaning up my database’s metadata fields and the descriptors on those fields, and reviewing what subset is visible from the public version of the zine catalogue. I’m sharing the zine catalogue’s current metadata fields below. They’re grouped into seven categories. Some metadata fields I don’t share publicly, for privacy (e.g. PDF backup doesn’t have clearance to share openly) or because I don’t think they’ll be useful to others; these are prefaced with “private” below. As time allows, I’ll edit the metadata descriptions so they make more sense to users other than me (e.g. what counts as a “standard” zine vs. a mini-zine?).

When my dh+lib article goes live in the next month, you’ll be able to read some examples of how this metadata setup powers interesting makerspace and data physicalization experiments.

Title & creators

Zine title
The title of the zine (including subtitle if any, but not including issue/volume info, which goes in a separate column)

Part of series
If part of a series, volume, and/or has a version number

If part of a series or versioned, this zine’s specific info

Who contributed to making the zine? Authors, editors, illustrators, folks heavily cited, folks in the “special thanks” section if I have time to add them, etc.

Author or larger project URL
Webpage with more info about author(s) or larger project a zine is part of, if any.

More author info
Details about the authors themselves, including if they are responsible for specific aspects of the zine

Themes, topics, identities

Ways to group and discover zines with similar topics, formats, etc.


Free e-reading?
If you can read some version of the zine for free online, the link to do so

Free printing/redistribution?
Does this zine allow free (re)printing/distribution from a digital copy (hosted by the zine authors or elsewhere)?

Redistribution details
More info about the creators’ desires re:copying, reprinting, and or redistributing PDF/online versions of the zine

Private: PDF backup?
If a PDF backup version has been placed in the SLab GDrive, provide the link. This will only be done with zines we believe can ethically be stored this way. That means a zine or author expressly states this storage, or otherwise making unlimited copies into the future, is okay; or if the copy is available in a non-restricted manner without notice requesting limitations (e.g. creators post it on a website not requiring login/special access, or distribute reprintable print copies at a public space without notice to not make copies). Examples of zines we wouldn’t store this way: zines for which consent to extended sharing/replicating/storage seems dubious (e.g. student projects for a class, without clear signs the teacher shared these only with student’s free consent), or zines shared from a private social media account.


Zine external blurb
If the creators of the zine, or other folks external to UVA blurbed the zine

Zine internal blurb
A blurb created by Amanda (may quote external blurb)

Zine notes
For other miscellaneous notes about the zine (e.g. has stickers loosely attached to cover)


Private: AWV recently read?
If AWV (Amanda Wyatt Visconti/me) recently read and updated the fields (e.g. adding missing tags, blurbing) for a zine, put the date that happened here to help me keep track of what zines I’ve fully attended to reading (vs. skimmed, or read but in the past)

Distro status
Do we have access or copies? Are there limitations (e.g. personal collection, or free but unprintable version online only)? Do we need to acquire more copies/access?

If limited copies, owner
If only limited copies of this zine exist in the lab, who do they belong to?

Private: Received from?
If someone gave these to Amanda or the lab (not who created, distros/seller—just a record of who gave me a copy or told me about a digital free copy, e.g. so I don’t re-recommend back at them and so I know what other zines they might like to hear about)

Relevant media?
E.g. link to GIFs of opening a zine with an interesting layout, SLab blog post about the zine, etc.


Private: Social media’d?
Date when shared in detail, plus any other dates shared (e.g. in workshop, blog post) and if shared as part of specific effort or topic

In card decks?
If an item appears in one of my “themed reading card deck” decks, note name of deck (e.g. #DHMakes at #ACH2023 deck)

Zine photos w/Maple
Upload of photo of my dog and the zine, if photo exists

Zine photos w/o Maple
Upload(s) of other photos of the zine, if photo(s) taken by me exist


Zine type?
Standard, mini-zine, tiny book, PDF ebook

E-zine print layout
If there’s a digital printable version of this zine, is it set up to print into something foldable into self-binding zine shape, or is it like a standard PDF (1 page per side of full sheet of paper)?

Color printing?
Whether color printing is necessary, nice-to-have but not necessary, or unneeded

Printer settings
Double sided? Flip on long vs. short edge? Pages per page? Scale?

Post-printing assembly
Requires folding, stapling, cuts, etc.?

Total prints since 1/1/2024
Add count here when printing more copies. This is the total number of zine copies Amanda has printed since the beginning of 2024 (includes as many zines as already had printed at that time, as well as if I make 1 copy for myself to keep at home).

Print count last updated
Last time updated the total print count

SLab duplicates & distributes
SLab is able to duplicate and distribute this zine; there may or may not be copies in the Common Room for folks to take at any given time.

Home print count
Number of print copies Amanda has at home, or digital copies Amanda has personally-paid license access to (i.e. personal collection, not part of total count printed or printable in SLab at any time)

Home digital license
If Amanda owns a private digital-only license to the zine paid from personal funds (i.e. can personally access, but not give others access nor make copies to distribute)

Private: Related to other reads
If Amanda or SLab has collected another work that is tied into this zine, this field names the work(s) and ties into the database cataloging those works. My collections of other reads (books, blog posts, etc.) is not yet public. An example for using this field is the Academic Tarot Deck, which is tied into the use manual/zine included in my zine catalogue.

Cite this post: Amanda Wyatt Visconti. “Metadata for Zine Collecting”. Published April 10, 2024. Accessed on .