The Little Magazines Collection was set up in 1964 as a Library initiative with the original aim of collecting all current U.K. little magazines and small press publications; this was soon broadened to include North American, Commonwealth, and a smaller number of significant European titles. A section of Alternative Press (or Underground Press) publications was added in the mid-1960s, because of the connections between the two types of publishing activity, and the collection includes various community newsletters, underground comics such as Oz, Frendz and International Times , arts bulletins, and radical papers, amongst other categories, gradually declining after the early 1970s. The sheer quantity of little magazines and small press publications soon led to the Library being much more selective but there are very extensive holdings of U.K. publications in particular, and large but less comprehensive holdings of U.S. publications. There is also a selection of magazines and books from the Commonwealth, Europe and other countries and a small collection of reference material either about little magazine and small press activities or of a more general critical or background nature. The library currently subscribes to around 200 little magazine titles. Over 3500 little magazine and alternative press titles are held in all.
Little Magazines are those which publish creative, often innovative work, with little or no regard for commercial gain. They provide an outlet for new creative work in literature and the other arts which in many cases is outside the criteria governing most mainstream journals. They sometimes have very small print runs and may last for relatively few issues. The small presses fulfil many of the same functions as the little magazines, and can be seen as a parallel and overlapping activity. Publications may take the form of books, pamphlets, cards, posters, unusual objects etc. The alternative presses can be seen to have much in common with little magazines, exploring the possibilities of alternative cultures or societies. Their relation to alternative literatures, and the way they contrasted with mainstream publications, were the primary factors that led to their being acquired alongside the little magazines and small press publications.
Poetry Store Collection
The Poetry Store Collection was started shortly after the Little Magazines Collection, in recognition of the affinity and interrelationship between the two. The Poetry Store contains small press publications, mostly of poetry but also including fiction and creative work in other media, now totalling over 7000 titles. Both the Poetry Store and Little Magazines holdings are at their strongest from the mid-1960s onwards, but there has also been a good deal of retrospective acquisition of earlier publications - including important early titles, in original form or facsimile reprint, such as Blast, The Germ and The Yellow Book.
Use the Explore online catalogue to find material held in these collections.