|Date(s):||May 2007 - August 2008|
|Country based in:||United States|
|Focus:||multifandom fanfiction archive|
|External Links:||www.fanlib.com (archived version)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Fanlib was a commercially-owned, for-profit multifandom archive, run by Chris and David Williams, which was open between May 18, 2007 and August 4, 2008. It began with 3 million USD of starting capital, and was heavily criticized until its buyout by Disney. Like Fandom, Inc., it was widely perceived as an attempt by outsiders to profit from the work of fans. FanLib was part of the original inspiration behind the OTW, notably Astolat's "We Need an Archive of Our Own" post.
However, unlike some failed startups, Fanlib did attract a number of fans, many of whom considered it their internet "home". This group of fans was not only alienated and left homeless by the site's closure but also felt unwelcome in many other fandom spaces that were hostile to Fanlib.
In March and April of 2007, a woman named Naomi emailed the following form letter to numerous authors, including Icarus and Susan, a moderator of lotrfanfiction.com. The email read as follows (brackets denote the differences between Icarus and Susan's version):
I saw some of your [FANDOM] fan fiction online and really enjoyed your writing. I work for a brand-new fan fiction website called FanLib.com and my colleagues and I want it to be the ultimate place for talented writers like you. In case you're wondering, FanLib's not new to fan fiction. Since 2001, we've been producing web events with people like CBS, Showtime and HarperCollins to bring fan creativity into the big leagues.
We're impressed by your writing and impact in the fan fiction community, and we value your opinion. That's why we're inviting you to be among the first to experience FanLib.com.
Feel free to take a look around, upload some fics, maybe read and comment on a few. Do as much or as little as you like. On FanLib.com, you'll be able to connect with other first-rate writers like yourself and exchange ideas with the site creators. Also, stay tuned for our sweepstakes, which will give fanfic writers and reviewers a chance to win prizes.
Don't worry, you won't get spammed. We're not selling anything. We just want you to try the site and hopefully give us some feedback.
[Beta information for Icarus, who was invited in March instead of April]
We look forward to having you as a founding member. Together, we can create the greatest fan fiction site the web's ever seen!
Best, Naomi FanLib Launch Coordinator FanLib.com"
Despite this, Fanlib did not seem to get the attention of the fanfiction community (and fandom at large) until mid to late May 2007, after the mass publication of news articles and press releases relating to the company. The LiveJournal community fanthropology discussed it critically in mid-May, which prompted Fanlib user and employee jdsampson to join in the discussion .
What Fanlib Was
Fanlib partnered with different TV and book copyright owners to provide fanfiction contests and events for fandoms such as The L Word and Star Trek. However, submitting fic to the contest forfeited the fan writer's rights to the fic, allowing it to be used for commercial purposes. Additionally, to qualify for some contests, the fics had to be of a specific type, and for a designated scene. The winner would then have their scene written into canon.
Reactions from the Fan Community
The fan community reacted with extreme prejudice, mockery, and fannish rage. It is generally considered taboo to use fanworks for commercial gain (which might violate copyright law and annoys the original rights holders), so many fans were uncomfortable with the very idea of Fanlib, which was clearly a for-profit company.
Additionally, quite a few fans, especially the large amount of whom are women in their 20s and 30s, felt condescended to by the founders and employees of Fanlib, which did not make them especially eager to jump into their fic archive (when they already had a fic archive) and make money for them (when they wouldn't see a cent of it for themselves, and would then be going against the non-commercial "spirit" of fanfiction).
Interestingly, when (in Icarus' words), "their current ad campaign, featuring a 98-lb weakling (who doesn't read fanfiction) alongside a muscleman who reads fanfiction on FanLib.com, left fans mystified and vaguely insulted," fans reacted by writing pink guy/blue guy slash . When Fanlib followed up with an ad involving a pinata, there was discussion of bestiality!fic.
Several fans made protest icons, mocking both the "color inside the lines" part of their sales brochures, and their attempts to emulate fanfiction.net's popularity. Some of these were featured in mainstream media blogs. 
Disney bought Fanlib's parent company for the coding software it had on its backend, not for its fanfiction-related work. (this is on the recent posts of Life w/o fanlib--will cite in a bit, just wanted to get it down)
Fanlib had its own distinctive site culture. (The Person Above Me? The Person Below Me? No Hiatus? Action Threads?) Refugees from the site set up a number of communities, archives, and discussion forums to reconnect with their friends after the closure.
Fanlib Forever describes its purpose as: To recreate and keep alive the pan-fandom spirit of FanLib and its forums. Users liked the appealing look of the site and the community in its forums, things that were hard to replicate elsewhere. Some users found that readers were more willing to read outside of their fandoms on FanLib than on other sites.
These are brief overviews of a fandom. (Did this terminology originate with FanLib? How far has it spread?) This practice of including newbiew guides or fandom overviews as part of the archive has been continued by Fan Nation (Fandom 411 on Fan Nation).
- FanLib Invitation. One of the select few. Like hell. (2007), by Icarus, accessed March 4, 2011. WebCite.
- (On) FanLib.com (2007), by Susan, accessed March 4, 2011. Webcite.
- In Just Seven Fics, I Can Make You A Man,by LizBee, accessed March 4, 2011.
- Fanlib Icons & Badges (2007), by angelsnow, accessed March 4, 2011. Webcite.
- Internet Goes Nova Over Showtime, Starz, Moonves Partnered FanLib.com, May 2007; icons featured on 2nd page of article