"Zines" find a good home! -- Or Maybe I Wasn't Crazy After All
|Title:||"Zines" find a good home! -- Or Maybe I Wasn't Crazy After All|
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"Zines" find a good home! -- Or Maybe I Wasn't Crazy After All is an essay by Rebecca Taylor in The K/S Press #147.
The topic was her search to find a good home for her large print zine and printed-off-the-internet fanfic collection, and her encouragement for other fans to do the same.
While there are more options available to fans today, in 2008, interest in archival, academic interest, and interest in popular culture (specifically fan culture) was a fairly new one.
This Fan's Collection
This fan's collection now resides at The University of California-Riverside.
As some of you know I've been looking for a University or other archive to donate my K/S collection. As a retired librarian with a lifelong interest in "pop culture" in its many variations, I felt that our particular "universe" deserved to be represented to future scholars along with all of the other Trek variations and incarnations. My personal feeling is that Trek will be as important to the study of the "legends and folklore" of the mass culture of the 20th and 21st centuries as Arthurian legends are to the understanding of how people viewed their world in the 19th and 20* centuries. Particularly after LEGACY came out, I wanted our immense body of work available to future scholars for study and research. I thought that my alma mater, which established the first serious pop culture library in the 1970's while I was a student there, would be a logical choice. Sadly, after 18 months of negotiation, including a visit to campus for a face-to-face with the special collections librarian, things didn't work out. Mostly it seemed to be a general lack of interest in TV and "modern pop culture" as their current focus seemed to be on cataloging "penny dreadful" romances of the early 1900's. I also don't think it was my imagination that there was more than a faint whiff of homophobia underlying our negotiations. In the end, the librarian told me to try some place else, maybe a school that had a specific interest in SF, as they were focusing more on collecting in the "romance" genre. Clearly, after all the time I'd spent trying to explain what they were, she had no clue about"/". What an interesting study to do, comparing what women, often secretly, read in trashy "dime novels" at the turn of one century and what they read AND WROTE AND PUBLISHED FOR THEMSELVES at the turn of another. Anyway, after that disappointment, I decided to try another tack and contacted Henry Jenkins. As an academic who had written at length about fan fiction, including "/," at least I wouldn't be trying to explain what the zines were and why they were important. Sadly, his answer was that his school's special collections didn't seem interested in HIS collection, and his best suggestion was a SF club on campus.
After a few months cogitating both reactions to my inquiries, I was beginning to wonder if I was totally off base and that I had somehow let my love of K/S cloud my judgment about its importance as one reflection of women's imaginary lives and culture.
But I still needed to "downsize" my bookshelves, especially the 25+ notebooks in which I'd filed a huge number of K/S stories that had appeared on the internet between 2000 and 2007. (I never have learned to read-for-pleasure from a computer screen - and yes, we buy copy paper by the case and ink cartridges by the dozen at my house.) Knowing that there were many stories in those notebooks that had never been distributed in print and that many had disappeared as websites came and went, I decided to try one last time before I gave up and sold the zines off piecemeal and recycled the notebooks. One Sunday afternoon while hunting around online for other University Special Collection that might be more receptive, I came across the website of the Popular Culture and American Culture Association, an organization of academics which has a major focus on the study of "media" in its wide and varied scope. On that site was a call for papers for next year's conference along with WHO was jurying each particular topic - and the e-mail addresses of each of those people! You would not believe the things these people study.
[snipped]I knew there must be a place for us somewhere in this list.
And I hit the jackpot. I harvested about a dozen e-mails from the most likely topics and sent out a general note saying I was looking for an archives or a library special collection to donate my K/S Trek collection to. Did anyone have any suggestions? It is AMAZING how many profs, grad students and archivists read their listservs on Sunday afternoon! Within a couple of hours I had almost 25 replies with suggestions ranging from "I'll talk to somebody at the Department/Library tomorrow!" to "Have you tried _____ school, I hear they have a big SF or Trek collection?" My note even ended up on such diverse listservs as the GSLIS Progressive Librarians Guild and the Archives and Archivists list sponsored by the Society of American Archivists. By Monday morning I had almost 50 replies and was wondering what kind of genie I'd let out of the bottle. I began trying to keep track of which schools were being suggested the most figuring those would be the ones I'd contact first. I was out running errands when Melissa Conway from UC-Riverside called and told my partner to not let me give them away until I read the e-mail she was sending about why they should be housed in their special collection.
Within hours, I knew she was right. The J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Utopian Literature collection includes the papers of such authors as Anne McCaffrey, David Brinn, Robert Forward, and Gregory Benford. The collection also houses more than 200,000 fan and semi-pro zines from three major collectors including Terry Carr and Bruce Peltz. Most tellingly, I quickly figured out the Melissa knew what K/S was and that she had a good idea of its intrinsic importance to their collection. They also have a growing collection on the television industry, particularly in Southern California as well as a small but growing GLBT archive.
In the end I received over 100 responses with suggestions of 56 individual institutions. Some of the most suggested were UC-Riverside (6) Temple (4- and probably my second choice as they already have Camille Bacon-Smith's collection), BGSU (4), Michigan State (4), U of Iowa (4), and Texas A&M (3). And there were more than just Universities. Also suggested were two Public Libraries (Riverside Iowa and Sherman Oaks, CA) as well as the SF Museum in Seattle (another good idea I briefly considered) and even ONE, the National Gay and Lesbian Archive in Los Angeles. Several people suggested I contact the Organization of Transformative Works, but they e-mailed me before I could get to them. They wanted to know who was taking my collection as they are always looking for suggestions of interested libraries to pass on to people who contact them.
All-in-all, I heard from 7 faculty members, 8 graduate students, and 19 special collections librarians and archivists as well a whole slew of people who didn't specifically identify their institution or profession. I've kept most of the e-mails and if anyone is curious about the complete list, let me know. It really is pretty amazing. Or if you're in the position to tell family members or friends, particularly those who don't "get" K/S; "When I'm gone here's where I want my K/S to go" please consider UC-Riverside. It may not be our Jim's hometown, but the neighborhood seems to be friendly and welcoming. And what librarian-K/Ser wouldn't love a library whose catalog is called SCOTTY! What will a Star Fleet Academy researcher make of "our boys" one day?
P.S. THE University Archivist called and wanted some clarification on terms to describe the collection. They are working with the printed-out on-line stories I'm sending them at this point. Each story gets its own archival folder and then they are grouped in archival boxes. AND they are planning to give each story subject access as well as author and title in their catalog. Zounds! I'm not sure they know quite how much there is going to be to catalog. OTOH, researchers of the future will be delighted.