The Little Maga/Zine Collection was created in the 1960s in response to the flourishing San Francisco Renaissance. SFPL librarians began collecting in earnest sometime around 1966. Despite a few obstacles – the short life of many little magazines made it difficult to start and maintain subscriptions, distribution was occasionally disorganized, non-existent, or made only through friends or word of mouth; and the sometime anti-establishment attitudes of writers and publishers often precluded libraries from receiving little magazines – the collection of 40 titles was assembled and opened to the public in the old Main Library’s Literature Department in 1967. Wild Dog, Beatitude, Black Dialogue, Hollow Orange, The Journal for the Protection of All Beings, and Big Sky were among the first titles held by the Library.
By the early 1980s, the collection had grown to about 500 titles, but suffered in the changing political and financial scene and stayed dormant for most of the decade. In 1988 it was revived and in 1991, when zines made their appearance, the library sent out a call asking zine creators, readers, and collectors to donate their San Francisco zines to the collection. The result was an immediate and enthusiastic response. The collection was transferred to Special Collections and now holds more than 1,200 titles.
The collection documents the underground/alternative press of the San Francisco Bay Area, and its influence on the cultural, social and political life of San Francisco. Little magazines representing almost every literary movement from the 1940s to the present, political little mags, and self-published zines, form the core of the collection. Little magazines and zines beyond the Bay Area but associated with San Francisco through content, contributors, editors, etc., are also collected. Newspaper clippings and other ephemeral materials may be found in the collection as well.
The Little Maga/Zine collection is a non-circulating research collection, available to the public Tuesday-Sunday at the Marjorie G. & Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center on the 6th Floor of the San Francisco Main Library. The collection is in the process of being cataloged and some titles can be found in the online catalog. For the full list of titles you can browse through the Little Maga/Zine Collection finding aid on the San Francisco Library's website.