The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material

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Archive
Name: The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material (originally "The Corellian Archives")
Date(s): mid-1980s-current day (really complicated: see below)
Archivist: Ming Wathne (March 1990-2008)
Founder: Ming Wathne
Type: zine collection
Fandom: multi
URL: old internet home page (Wayback Machine copy)
Ming's University of Iowa collection
Other zine collections at the University of Iowa

Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries

Fanzine Archives 02.png
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
logo from Ming's website, was also used on print flyers [1]

The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material was a collection of fanfiction zines owned and circulated by fans, and then Ming Wathne (aka Mariellen Wathne), from the mid-1980s to 2009.

Ming eventually remodeled her house to make shelf space for the hundreds, then thousands of different fanzines she acquired and cataloged. Local fans helped log in new zines, but was Ming's show for more than 20 years.

In 2009, the final version of Ming's library became known as The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material. The Fanzine Archives became a federally recognized, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and circulation of fanzines. The Archives maintained an active circulating library of over 300 fanzines, and a permanent collection of over 3,000 titles.

Different Names, Different Places

It had several different names and incarnations:

Quick Timeline

  • Beginning in 1981 (perhaps earlier), [2] George Lucas requested that copies of all Star Wars fanzines be sent to him; the Official Star Wars Fan Club folds in 1986.
  • In September 1986, there is an announcement in Southern Enclave #13 (and other places) that the collection would become a fan lending library run by First Terran Enclave
  • First Terran Enclave ran this collection as a lending library from January 1, 1987 to December 1987.
  • The zines resided in an unknown location and were not circulated for two years.
  • In November 1989, Ming wrote a letter to Comlink and explained she was re-opening the lending library and that The Santa Barbara Science Fiction Alliance would be involved. The collection was to be "The Corellian Archives." She hoped to have it up and running in the spring of 1990.
  • A 1991 flyer in Ming's zine Bright Center of the Universe #1 stated: "Announcing the reopening of the Fan Zine Library. The Santa Barbara Science Fiction Alliance has taken over custodianship. We are now Multi-Media, but as a tribute to George Lucas who started it we have renamed it "THE CORELLIAN ARCHIVES." We now have become part of the Research Libraries interested in Fandom. We join Such Libraries as The Smithsonian Library, The Library of Congress, University of California, The Walt Disney Archives and other national and international Libraries interested in Fandom."
  • In May 2000, the archives got an addition of material from the Fanzine Reading Room at MediaWest*Con. [3]
  • In August 2008, the library was closed due to Ming's poor health. Ming asked fans to help her find a permanent home for the 3,000 plus zines she carefully accumulated and indexed. [4]

From Star Wars to Multifandom

The library originally contained only Star Wars zines. Fans asked if she'd take copies of non-Star Wars zines, and she started collecting them, too. When the library reopened in 1990, the collection became multifandom.

Why a Star Wars Zine Archive?

From June 1987:

...we all think Maggie answered the question, 'Why go to all the trouble to run a zine library?' [Her thoughts]: 'Coming into fandom a little late (1980), I missed many of the early SWfanzines, those incredible first efforts. Oh, I had heard of fanzines, as any Trek fan had, but I'd never seen one. Then, at my first convention I discovered a SW fanzine. I was hooked! I had to have more, read more - I wanted it all. Alas, economics prevented me from acquiring more than just a few, although thanks to the generosity of a new friend in fandom, I was able to read some of the ones I'd missed. Whenever I could lay my hands on a 'zine I hadn't seen before, I was like a person dying of thirst finding water in the desert (a bit melodramatic, I know, but it's the only comparison I could think of). I would read whatever I found from cover to cover In record time, not thinking that I should savor the moment, make it last, for I didn't know when I'd get another one... Now, I have a chance to finish playing catch-up. I'm able to take a look at fan history from the beginning and at how far we've progressed. ...SW can and will live on in the minds and the hearts of all its fans; and in all the fanzines, both old and those yet to be. [6]

Some Flyers

History and the First Terran Enclave

The foundation of the Fanzine Archive was the "The SWzine Library"/"The SWzine Lending Library", (later "Corellian Archives") which started because of Lucasfilms' attempt to control Star Wars fanfic. By 1981, Lucasfilms had been telling fanzine editors that they needed to send Lucasfilms two copies of each fanzine they produced that had Star Wars content. (for more information, see: Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers). Years later, Lucasfilms gave up on the idea, and offered the pile of fanzines to fandom. A group of fans called the First Terran Enclave were the recipients and started a lending library.

From September 1986:
Forceful greetings from the First Terran Enclave!

As you may have heard. Lucasfilms Ltd. has closed the Official Star Wars Fan Club as an in-house organization. During the packing-up of the OSWFC offices, a library of "Star Wars" and mixed-media fanzines was identified as surplus and "scheduled to be terminated." The First Terran Enclave submitted a proposal for the preservation of the fanzines which included the non-profit administration of a fannish lending library and a plan for ultimate donation of the entire collection intact to the library of a university or state college. This proposal, once accepted, became the charter document for the Star Wars Lending Library (to begin circulation January 1, 1987). A copy of the charter document is available to all for an SASE. Please scan the list of zine titles at the left margin of this sheet. We would like to obtain the permission of the editors to include their zine in the Fanzine Lending Library for circulation. We've already sent a copy of this letter to all the editors for whom we have current addresses, and we need to hear from anyone who has not received her copy. Participation is optional, of course — if an editor prefers, her zine will not be circulated in any form, while it will still be included in the Library for the purposes of donation. Naturally, too. any additional titles published that an editor may wish to contribute to the Lending Library would be more than welcome, and will be included in the donation of the library to its final home. We really hope everyone will participate in the Star Wars Fanzine Lending Library. No-one is going to make any money off this and we will be prepared to prove it. Nor are we going to violate the right of an editor to terminate circulation of her zine. But we're counting on fanzine editors nation-wide to realize that the existence of this library can be a significant resource for all fans, neofans, poor fans, any fan with no other hope to ever read an out-of-print zine.

We want this library to provide a needed service, we're looking forward to your support!

From June 1987:

A good number of them - over a hundred titles from the Official Star Wars Fanclub collection, as well as titles since donated by fans - temporarily reside in a basement in Seattle as the SW Fanzine Lending Library. This collection of SW fanzines, many donated by Maureen Garrett when the OSWFC disbanded in spring of 1986, is intended for eventual donation to a scholastic library. Until then, though, we're operating a lending library, so that copies of these often rare (and always precious) zines are available to SW fandom for reading. These are zines like ALDERAAN, the original SW letterzine and the early GUARDIANs; classics like KESSEL RUN and PEGASUS; impossible to find zines like THE FORCE and out-of-print issues of many now well-known zines.

The 'who' of the library, as in who's providing the slave labor, is a group of Seattle-area fans who gather under the name of the First Terran Enclave. As for why we do this, well, Ellen says she was bribed, Carol says she was in the car and couldn't help but come to the library meetings, Steve wanted an excuse to socialize occasionally. All summer we worked on contacting the editors; by the end of the year, we had received permission to circulate enough zines to make tlle Library a reality. We organized our order forms; organized the zines; delved into the mysteries of the Post Office and 4th class Book Rate/Insured mailing.

On January 5, our first zine copes went out in the mail. For the next year, or longer if interest in the library continues, we will continue making copies of these zines available for reading to SW fandom. We're now all going slightly bonkers keeping up with the details and the copying, but it's worth it. Bev (who first said yes to the idea to Maureen and therefor couldn't get out of it) is in charge of searching for the best home for fandom's zines when the Library shuts down. The kind of home we're looking for is an academic or public library that will not only archive the fanzines properly to preserve them, but make them available to scholars and other folk who will use them. A university with a department of popular culture or folklore and a library that has an existing collection of pop culture, science fiction, fanzines, and related material would be ideal. In our more parochial moments, we'd like the collection to remain on the West Coast, but we're open to suggestions from all over the country. Names that have come up so far are Texas A&M, Michigan State University, Bowling Green State University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, and the Toronto Public Library. Bev is still soliciting suggestions for other possible homes. Where we have duplicate copies of a fanzine (we have three or four copies of some!), we'll auction the duplicates and donate the proceeds to one of the media-fannish funds, probably the Sara Campbell Scholarship Fund. As for the rest of us, Maggie and Susan had a basement, and Jim and June had the computer. Signe needed a good excuse to escape from the wilds of Issaquah and the Cascade foothills, and DJ had a few things to say about our original charter and guidelines...

My only regret at this point is that there are many zines that have not given permission to the library for their Circulation, which doesn't help... Maybe those editors who didn't get around to mailing their permission slips back will get a move on as word of the Library spreads; maybe those who didn't get their mailer (some of our addresses were really OLD), will write us. If any COMLlNK readers know editors in either position - give a call and a push! [7]

The library operated under the umbrella of First Terran Enclave for one year. Maggie Nowakowska announced that, as of December 31, 1987, the SW Fanzine Lending Library had closed. "She thanked everyone who participated and said to check the various fan publications for news on the library's new scholastic home." [8]

A fan in December 1987 questions what should be done with these zines. A librarian disagrees that the zines "owned" by First Terran Enclave, and now apparently homeless, should be put in a library that allows them to be borrowed through interlibrary loan:
They have to decide how they want the collection to be regarded. If it's to be considered a collection of publications that document a unique creative response to a popular culture phenomenon, an almost irreplaceable record of Star War's fandom's creative energy, then it needs to be carefully preserved and not allowed out on interlibrary loan... No top-notch special collections librarian I know would agree to allowing the fanzine collection circulate... S/he would, instead, catalog the collection, make its availability known through a nation union catalog, probably OCLC, perhaps have a good bibliography produced, and then either personally supervise the photocopying of material requested or require the scholars to come to the library themselves... they should be treated like gossamer, kept in controlled temperature and humidity and light levels, and only brought out to be used in the Rare Reading Room by people who have a real need to used them. [9]

In June 1989, a fan asks: "Whatever happened to the 'Star Wars Lending Library'?" Another fan responds: "I know that it has been shut down and they were looking for a permanent place for the fanzines. Does anyone have any further info? Linda? Bev?" [10]

It Becomes Ming's Library

In November 1989, Ming Wathne writes:
To those friends and Editors who know me, and also to those those who don't, if one is stubborn, you can always get yourself into messes, that I have accomplished the project. The George Lucas Fan Zine Library is going to reopened. The Santa Barbara Science Fiction Alliance has taken over custodianship with myself as the curator. It is hoped that the library will be opened in March or April 1990. It has been renamed The Corellian Archives. [11]
boxed zines in Ming Wathne's huge outdoor shed
part of the Fanzine Archives

From a notice in the first issue of The Monthly in January 1990:

Circulating fan zine library to reopen. Open for circulation in March (earliest April). The Lending Library is open now for some information and contributions. Originally only Star Wars, now we want to cover all media. This is an out-of-print circulating library, not a copy service... Let new fans read OOP material... Editors: we need contributions if possible, or would like permission to circulate your out-of-print materal if copies can be found.

Soon, other fans were asking if she'd take copies of non-Star Wars zines, and Ming started collecting them, too, eventually remodeling her house to make shelf space for the hundreds, then thousands of different fanzines she acquired and cataloged. Local fans helped log in new zines, but was Ming's show for more than 20 years.

In late 1990, Ming starts toying with the idea of renaming the library:

The Corellian Library is in great need of contributions or the OK to circulate your out-of-print material. There will be a new listing coming out in January. How does the "National Fan Zine Library" sound? And don't let the name fool you. While Star Wars is my favorite personally, as Librarian, I don't play favorites. [12] In December 1990, she posts an ad using the new title, "National Fan Zine Library." [13]

From The Monthly in January 1991:

Congratulations to the Corellian Archives, which has been nominated to join the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Walt Disney Archives, and a series of state and international Libraries as a research source for fan interests -- the first step to becoming a national Fan Zine Library.

The Opt-Out Clause

Fandom is never easy to communicate with. When she acquired a zine, Ming wrote the fanzine editor according to the address in the zine (often many years out of date), but frequently was unable to make sure that the original zine editor or publisher would want their zine circulating in the library. She also posted many notices in various adzines, The Monthly one of them, putting a call out to long-lost authors to get a hold of her. Ming was smart enough to use opt-out: her form letter says "if you DON'T reply within xx days, your work WILL be included."

1990 Policies

certificate sent to a fan in appreciation of a donation

The "Corellian Archives" first opened with these policies [14]:

  • The Library is not part of my own extensive collection.
  • The Library is not a copy service.
  • The Library will be a circulating library requiring a small fee, estimated at this time between $1.25-$1.50.
  • The Library will make one copy only of the original zine for circulation, originals will not be trusted to the mails.
  • All commitments made to the library when it was in Seattle will be honored.
  • Given the realities of the zine world, however, if the zines are out of print and efforts to reach the Editors or their agents are non-productive, the zine will be circulated just as it would be in a standard library.
  • It is a hope that the Library will eventually be repository for all zine material, not just Star Wars. We already have some Star Trek and foreign language material.
  • The thrust of the Library is to make available to new fans the early zine materials, most of which has already been lost as Editors lose interest and have turned to other things.
  • Donations to the Library should be originals or good copies.
  • Zines that are still in print and available on the market will be held in storage until they are declared out of print unless we have the Editor's OK to circulate them.

1993 Policies

Until 1993, zine editors were welcome to change their mind and withdraw a zine from circulation if they wanted. In 1993, Ming sent a notice to The Monthly which stated a new policy: "Due to the expense of making circulation copies, withdrawing permission to circulate an out-of-print zine can no longer be honored once a circulation copy has been made. If you have given permission under the old regulations and wish to remove that permission, please contact me before April 30, 1993. If a copy has not been made, the old agreement is still good."

Labeled boxes of zines
Part of the Fanzine Archives

The Fanzine Archive site posted a list of "Other things you should know about the Library." These included:

  • Original zines are not circulated, only copies (except in the case where the Library has multiple copies of a fanzine in the collection).
  • Only the zines marked "AVAILABLE" are ready to be borrowed.
  • If you want to borrow a zine marked "Needs Sponsor", you must pay copy charges to create the circulating copy.
  • Zines marked "No Circulation" are for on-site reference only, and may not be sponsored or borrowed.
  • Zines are shipped priority mail insured, or UPS, which ever is more cost-effective. (Zines never leave the library uninsured.)
  • The Library does not circulate during the months of May and December, but is open for all other business.
  • Zines are mailed once-monthly, on the 20th . All requests received in the prior month will be shipped on the 20th. If the 20th falls on Saturday, the zines will be shipped on Friday. If it falls on Sunday, the zines will be shipped on Monday.
  • Zines must be received back in the library 40 days from the date sent, or a late fee of five cents per day will be charged until the zine is returned.
  • Zines may be returned by any method a client prefers (US mail, UPS, or other), a long as they get back safely, and on time. Remember: clients are responsible for lost, damaged or uninsured zines, so insure!
Fanzine Archives Homepage

Anticipating services like NetFlix, The Fanzine Library offered users "Single-Request Accounts" ("for the new or occasional user") and Long Term Deposit Accounts ("for the more active user"). Under the Single-Request plan, you could only borrow one zine at a time; with a LTD, you opened an account with a deposit of $50 and you could start a request list of at least 8 zines in order of preference. You could then get two zines at a time and slowly draw down on your account (there were charges for shipping, as well as a small rental fee.)

Pdfs listing all the zines once listed on the Fanzine Archives site can be found here: A - Z Listing of Zines, Star Trek Zines, Star Wars Zines, Miscellaneous Zines.

1993, 1998, 1999


A New Home with the Fan Culture Preservation Project

As of August 2008, the Fanzine Archives was closed due to Ming's health. Ming asked fans to help her find a permanent home for the 3,000 plus zines she carefully accumulated and indexed. [15]

In early 2009, the Open Doors committee of the Organization for Transformative Works helped to place the Fanzine Archives with the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries as part of their Fan Culture Preservation Project. Sixty-two boxes of zines were transferred to the University and were cataloged during that summer.

The Finding Aid for the Ming's zines at the University of Iowa.

After Ming's death on December 17, 2010, her husband requested that memorial donations be directed to a fund supporting this collection. [16] Gifts in memory of Ming may be made by sending a check made out to The University of Iowa Foundation to:

The University of Iowa Foundation
Levitt Center for University Advancement
One West Park Road
P.O. Box 4550
Iowa City IA 52244-4550

Fan Comments

‘Why go to all the trouble to run a zine library?’ 'Coming into fandom a little late (1980), I missed many of the early SW fanzines, those incredible first efforts. Oh, I had heard of fanzines, as any Trek fan had, but I’d never seen one. Then, at my first convention I discovered a SW fanzine. I was hooked! I had to have more, read more - I wanted it all. Alas, economics prevented me from acquiring more than just a few, although thanks to the generosity of a new friend in fandom, I was able to read some of the ones I’d missed. Whenever I could lay my hands on a 'zine I hadn’t seen before, I was like a person dying of thirst finding water in the desert (a bit melodramatic, I know, but it’s the only comparison I could think of). I would read whatever I found from cover to cover In record time, not thinking that I should savor the moment, make it last, for I didn’t know when I’d get another one… Now, I have a chance to finish playing catch-up. I’m able to take a look at fan history from the beginning and at how far we’ve progressed. …SW can and will live on in the minds and the hearts of all its fans; and in all the fanzines, both old and those yet to be.” [17]

References

  1. Fanzine Archives Header
  2. While perhaps not a requirement of Lucas at this time and more a courtesy, the editor on a flyer for Against the Sith #4 (April 1979) notes that "copies of Against the Sith were ordered by George Lucas and Gary Kurtz for their collections and the Lucasfilm archives."
  3. "Good news: Phase 1 of the "zine room redo was completed with the deletion of over 300 "zines from the permanent loan collection. With a few new 'zines added this year, the collection now has 245 'zines covering 23 fandoms with a few more fandoms showing up in the 3 extra categories of Cross-overs, Fringe Fandoms and-Multi-Media 'zines. Almost half of the deleted 'zines were taken by Ming Wathne of the Fannish Archives to be used for its " loan-by-mail" program. Thanks to the con members who drove Ming (and over 100 lbs of 'zines!) to the post office. The remaining 'zines were put out in a box at the zine room door for #1 each or whatever donation the buyer wanted to make. The money was split 60-40 between the Fan Fund and the Fannish Archives for it's shipping costs. There were also 11 items in the silent bid auction for the Fannish Archives of which 9 sold." -- from the post con report for 2000 MediaWest*Con
  4. "Note: As of August 2008, the Fanzine Archives is closed due to health constraints of the Librarian. Thank you to all the fans whose creativity, effort and inspiration have made this project possible over the years. We are considering passing the library on to a new librarian, if we could find someone with the capacity to store the vast collection of zines, and the willingness to distribute them freely as a service to all fans. If you think you are this person, please send a real, paper letter to Ming Wathne" Closing note, August 2008.
  5. 62 boxes of zines were transferred to the University, where they were cataloged. Ming's Finding Aid is here and the list of other fandom Finding Aids is here: Fandom related Zine Collections at the University Of Iowa.
  6. from Comlink #30
  7. from Comlink #30
  8. from Comlink #33
  9. from Comlink #33
  10. from Comlink #41
  11. from Comlink # 42
  12. from Comlink #45
  13. Comlink #46
  14. from a letter by Ming in Comlink #42 in November 1989
  15. "Note: As of August 2008, the Fanzine Archives is closed due to health constraints of the Librarian. Thank you to all the fans whose creativity, effort and inspiration have made this project possible over the years. We are considering passing the library on to a new librarian, if we could find someone with the capacity to store the vast collection of zines, and the willingness to distribute them freely as a service to all fans. If you think you are this person, please send a real, paper letter to Ming Wathne" Closing note, August 2008.
  16. OTW Blog Post noting memorial.
  17. meeedeee.tumblr., comment by meeedeee, October 23, 2015, kayryn reblogged this post from absedarian with the tags: #And for the kids out there who think fandom isn't for ppl over 25/30/35 etc#I'd like you to go and read about Ming Wathne#and realize that this woman to whom we owe so much#died in 2010 at the age of 84#this was no teenager who did this but an actual living and breathing adult#fandom history#fandom#fanfiction