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Bringing Special Collections online

Selection of zines held in the LCC collection
Selection of zines held in the LCC collection
LCC Zine Collection
Written by
Library Services
Published date
02 August 2021


Facilitating online access to key special collections in UAL Library Services has been a focus since March 2020. Collaborations between the special collections teams and external partners have resulted in sharing new practices and uses of technology to make our collections available while working online through lockdown. The collections have all moved online in different ways depending on their nature, the students’ and researchers’ aims, and the pedagogical needs.

Each week we take a look at how a key collection has pivoted online.

London College of Communication Zine Collection online


In the decade since it was founded, London College of Communication’s zine collection has become an invaluable teaching and learning asset to UAL staff and students as well as the wider zine community. The collection plays a key role as a disruptor of the academic hierarchy of knowledge, as well as an alternative — horizontal, affective, communitarian — model of engagement with information sources. A globally significant collection, serving researchers from UAL and other UK and international universities, the collection has featured in internal and external exhibitions and been featured on Artsnight.

In the 10 years before the pandemic, Librarians delivered 395 zine sessions to 7,965 students from across UAL. In those last 2 years 318 students and researchers consulted 3,492 zine titles.

When lockdown started and UAL libraries closed in March 2020 access to all physical collections ceased. Zines are living breathing documents intended to be shared, seen, and handled. The LCC Special Collections library team wanted to ensure our users had access to this fantastic resource.

Online content

Instead of attempting to substitute the physical with a digital equivalent, this response focused on what type of experiences and knowledge could be conveyed through other means.  Much like the ethos of zine making, the online zine resource is an example of quick creative thinking made with limited resources, motivated by passion.

The Zine Collection blog comprises:


While the resource has successfully provided an alternative point of access for students and researchers, the process has come with a significant number of professional challenges. The project ultimately brings us back to the ethical struggles of such a resource. The project reflects on the uncomfortable dynamics of power, both colonised and coloniser, in between the academic institution and the DIY and underground scenes and creators.


This is an ongoing project to supplement the collections, initially conceived while physical access was unavailable, but this resource is constantly growing and is now having much wider impact.

  • 126 zines have been added to the online zine resource
  • 90 zine covers featured in the covers gallery
  • The team have curated themed subject guides on the blog around LGBTQIA+ zines, feminist zines, and International and non-English language zines
  • 44 new subject tags created.
  • The online zine resource has been listed as part of the UK and Ireland Zine Librarians Directory
  • In summer 2020 we held 10 teaching sessions using the online zine resource with approximately 162 attendees
  • The Zine Blog has received 9,957 page views since Summer 2020.

The success of this project is demonstrated by the usage and feedback and in our collaborations with the wider zine community.  Online sessions have been run for UAL undergraduate courses, PhD students and Academic staff.


“Thank you so much for your run through the zine library last week, it was very helpful to see how it works online! And I will be making full use of the zine resources for this project.”

“I just wanted to say thank you very much for this session. It was very interesting. (…) It’s very hard sometimes to find that depth of information about zines, so it’s really great that all of this is catalogued on this website. Thank you very much for showing us that resource.”