Alternative Libraries and Infoshops

Download the handout given for the alternative libraries workshop at the Radical Reference Alternative Libraries skill sharing at the 2005 midwinter ALA conference in Boston, here

In addition to the RR list, you can check the Slingshot Radical Contact list here. It is updated more frequently than ours.

Last updated 12/08/11

ABC No Rio Zine Library, New York City, NY
Contains over seven thousand items including independent, underground and marginal publications on subjects such as music, culture, politics, personal experience and travel. The collection is centered on zines addressing political and social issues.

Alternative Press Center Library, Chicago,IL
One of the largest private collections of alternative publications in the United States. The collection also includes books. This is a library with a social conscience, offering alternative perspectives and information that are often difficult to find in mainstream libraries.

American Radicalism collection, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Holds over 17,000 items, including books, pamphlets, periodicals, posters, and ephemeral material covering a wide range of viewpoints on political, social, and economic issues in America. The emphasis in the collection is on materials produced by radical groups - both left and right.

Barnard College Library Zine Collection, New York, NY
Barnard's zines are written by New York City and other urban women with an emphasis on zines by women of color. (In this case the word "woman" includes anyone who identifies as female and some who don't believe in binary gender.) The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, third wave feminism, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, and other topics.

Browne Popular Culture Library, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH
The BPCL, founded in 1969 and dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of research materials on American popular culture (post 1876), is the most comprehensive repository of its kind in the United States.

Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), Los Angeles, CA
Holding over 50,000 posters, the CSPG archive is the largest collection of Post World War II graphics in the United States.

Civic Media Center, Gainsville, FL
Alternative press library and reading room. Contains over 10,000 books, journals, zines, videotapes, audio tapes, and newspapers by independent, non-corporate press on a wide variety of subjects.

Comic Art Collection, Michigan State University Library, East Lansing, MI
Over 200,000 items including comic books, newspaper comic strips, several thousand books and periodicals about comics.

Durland Alternative Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
The collection includes contemporary issue-oriented resources often unavailable in research and public libraries including subjects of social change, prison issues, women's spirituality, AIDS, Indigenous religions, etc.

Feminist and Lesbian Periodical Collection, Special Collections, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
The collection contains 482 lesbian and feminist periodical titles including 36 Oregon titles and 31 international titles.

Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, CA
Supports labor and community activists as well as to students, researchers and the public. The collection focuses on labor, social history, Marxist theory and much more.

Human Sexuality Collection, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY
Holds periodicals, pamphlets and books, films, art work, unpublished short stories, erotica, legal briefs, private correspondence, and diaries concerned with gay life and significant events in the American gay rights movement since World War II.

Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC), Portland, OR
Maintains a library of over 4,000 self-published and independently produced materials. Items are available to the public for circulation and for reference use.

Located throughout the world, Infoshops provide social and cultural space, zine archives, libraries, day care centers, cafes, bookstores etc. The Infoshop site includes a list of infoshops throughout the US and other regions as well as theoretical and practical information on anarchism and other radical philosophies.

Kate Sharpley Library, London, England
Depository library of anarchist society. Contains approximately 7,000 English language volumes and a large number of periodicals dating from the nineteenth century to the present. These are currently catalogued on an in-house database. The library also holds material in a variety of foreign languages.

Labadie Collection, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Established in 1911, "the collection's strengths include: anarchism, civil liberties (with an emphasis on racial minorities), socialism, communism, colonialism and imperialism, American labor history through the 1930's, the IWW, the Spanish Civil War, sexual freedom, women's liberation, gay liberation, the underground press, and student protest.... Although the Labadie Collection contains 35,000 books and 8,000 periodicals (including nearly 800 currently received titles), it is justly famous for its ephemera."

L@s Quixotes Radical Lending Library/Infoshop, Seattle, WA
Opening at Pilot Books on April 1, 2010. Their call for donations requested books and zines with an anti-authoritarian slant.

Last Word Books & Press and the Olympia 'Zine Library, Olympia, Washington

Lavender Legacies Guide
A list of repositories on North America documenting the history and culture of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered.

Leather Archives & Museum
The Leather Archives & Museum is dedicated to preserving a record of the Leather/SM/Fetish Community: our lifestyles, our communities, our achievements, our history.

Lesbian Herstory Archives, New York City, NY
Houses over 20,000 volumes, 12,000 photographs, 300 special collections, 1,600 periodical titles, 1,300 organizational and subject files, thousands of feet of film and video footage, art and artifacts, musical records and tapes, posters and T-shirts, buttons and personal memorabilia.

Little Maga/Zine Collection History, SF Public Library Main Branch, San Francisco, CA
Created in the 1960s in response to the flourishing San Francisco Renaissance. SFPL librarians started to collect little magazines around 1966. The collection represents the documentation of literature as well as underground and popular culture of the 20th century.

Manuscript Collections Documenting Women in Society, Special Collections, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Moore Collection of Underground Comix, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, CA
Underground Comix collection within the library's special collections department. A comix database is available on the Web site.

Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library, Oakland, CA
Consists of about 15,000 books, and over twenty thousand rare pamphlets, some dating back to the early 1920's. The scope of the Karl Niebyl library reflects his wide interests: including world history, economics, philosophy, Marxism-Leninism, labor history, art and aesthetics.

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, CA
Open to the public, this is the world's largest research library on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered heritage and concerns. Relies wholly on community support.

Provisions Library - Resources for Art and Social Change
Provisions Library holds over 5,000 books, zines, dvds and periodicals that examine the intersections between art and social change. It also features a gallery space with exhibitions that provide an avenue of expression for marginalized perspectives. The website is home to the Meridians -- a point of entry for further research in a wide array of topics relating to social change. Free and open to the public!

Quatrefoil Library, St Paul, MN
Collects, preserves, and shares material and information relevant to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other sexual minority communities. Collections include books, videos, sound recordings and periodicals.

QZAP: Queer Zine Archive Project, online
"The Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) was first launched in November 2003 in an effort to preserve queer zines and make them available to other queers, researchers, historians, punks, and anyone else who has an interest DIY publishing and underground queer communities." Free pdf downloads of zines by queer authors/artists.

Sallie Bingham Center for Women, Duke University
The Center houses a broad range of rare and unique primary source material on women.

Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Founded in 1943 the Schlesinger Library is one of the foremost women's history libraries in the U.S. The collections include books, periodicals, manuscripts, organizational records, and audiovisual materials documenting women's lives since the early 19th century onward. It is open to the public.

Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA
Founded in 1941 the Sophia Smith Collection is an internationally recognized repository of manuscripts, photographs, periodicals and other primary sources in women's history.

Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research is a leftist library in Southern California. It is "a people's library dedicated to documenting and preserving the histories of communities in struggle for justice and using our collections to address the challenges of the present so that all people have the ability, resources, and freedom to make their own histories."

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University, New York, NY
Focuses on the complex relationship between trade unionism and progressive politics and how this evolved over time. It includes archival, print, photographs, film, and oral history collections describe the history of the labor movement, history of radical politics, socialism, the New Left, communism, anarchism and more.

Urbana Champaign Independent Media Center Library, Urbana, IL
Supports the information needs of IMC media creators and the community at large. The library collects materials that give voice to those not portrayed in the mainstream/corporate media outlets, and has a preference for materials not available at other local libraries. Includes books, journals, zines, audio and video.

(The following bibliography is adopted from Cheryl Yanek's thesis "Alternative libraries: is their existence necessary?")

Anderson, L. (2002). "From the Alternatives Library: Books in Prison." Progressive Librarian, Winter Issue 21 Page 38. Retrieved January 5, 2005 from Proquest.

Case, P.J. (1984). "An antidote to the homogenized library." In S. Berman & J.P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative Library Literature 1982-1983: A Biennial Anthology (pp.137-145). Jefferson, NC: McFarland Press Inc, Co.

Dodge, C. (1998). Taking libraries to the streets: infoshops and alternative reading rooms. American Libraries, 29, 62-65. Retrieved November 27, 2004 from Dialog database.

Munson, C. (2001). Your friendly neighborhood infoshop. From S. Berman & J. P.
Danky (Eds.), Alternative Library Literature 1998-1999: A Biennial Anthology (pp. 250-254). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, Inc.

Schmidt, J. (2001). How to maintain an alternative library: The Civic Media Center, five years on. In S. Berman & J.P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative Library Literature 1998-1999: A Biennial Anthology (pp. 234-253). J.P. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, Inc.

Skrbic, Mirna (2003). "Alternative library." Ithacan Accent, Ithaca University Student Newspaper. April 17, 2003.

Smith, D. (2002). "Digital libraries for all." In S. Berman & J.P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative Library Literature 2000-2001: A Biennial Anthology (pp. 191-196). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, Inc.

Smith, L. (1995). "Zines and Libraries." Librarians at Liberty, vol. 3 (2). Retrieved January 3, 2005, from Proquest.

Willet, C. (2000). Alternative Libraries and Infoshops: The struggle against Corporate and Government Indoctrination in American Schools and Universities, and in daily life. Librarians at Liberty, vol 8 (1&2). Retrieved January 3, 2005, from Proquest.

Willett, C. (1996). "Starting an alternative library." In S. Berman & J.P. Danky (Eds.), Alternative Library Literature 1994-1995: A Biennial Anthology (pp. 186-187). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, Inc.

Williams, M.P. (1972). "Doing it: Migrant workers library." In C. West (Ed.), Revolting Librarians (pp. 63-67). San Francisco: Booklegger Press.

Wilson, J. (December 2003). "Queer Zine Archive Project." Riverwest Currents. Retrieved November 24, 2004, from