Fandom and Libraries

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Public libraries have been one venue where fans gather for socializing, and for pimping fandom to others.

Some universities have fannish materials in their collections. These collections are usually in special collections and have restricted use.

Some cons have fanzine reading rooms.

Many fandoms that began with print fanworks have libraries available for use to their fans. See Early History of Fanzine Libraries.

Public Libraries

Fannish Outreach

cover of early con program from 1969 University of Iowa Digital Library

Though it's commonly thought that the first all-Star Trek convention was held in 1972 at the Statler Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, New York, another convention predated it by three years. It was simply called "The Star Trek Con" and took place in the afternoon on March 1, 1969 at the Newark Public Library. The free event, organized by librarian Sherna Comerford Burley (at the time, Sherna Comerford) and Devra Langsam (co-editors of Spockanalia), was low-key and celebrity-free and attracted roughly 300 attendees. [1] For more, see Star Trek Con.

In the time before the Internet, some fans took their fannish enthusiasm to the masses via the public library via slide shows. Some of these gatherings included short talks, example print fanworks, episode showings, and refreshments!

Fannish Materials in Public Libraries

list of the zines at the Ridgefield Public Library in New Jersey, see Paterson Fanzine Library

The Paterson Fanzine Library was a 1978 collection of fanzines that was once housed at the Paterson Public Library in New Jersey. Roberta Rogow wrote about collecting zines for the library in Interstat #54 in April 1982. The library consisted of zines that were collected for the purpose of putting together the Trexindex. These zines were later moved to Ridgefield Public Library. This collection is now defunct.

Collections like this are far and few between, and probably short-lived.

Fan Club Meetings in Public Libraries

The public meeting rooms of libraries are a host to many community gatherings, and fans have been using them to congregate for quite some time; print newsletters often listed public libraries as their gathering places.

Fanzine Reading Libraries and Fanzine Libraries

Many cons had/have reading libraries, places were fans could read fanzines they otherwise did not have access to. Escapade is just one example.

By the 1990s, fandom had sufficient interest and acceptance behind the idea of a fanzine library to allow the creation of several smaller fandom specific libraries for making materials available to their fans:

University Special Collections

Starting in the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s, universities began collecting fanzines and making them part of their Special Collections. Often these fan fiction fanzines are part of a larger collection focusing on popular culture and science fiction. These university 'fanzine libraries' are more like archives than lending/circulating libraries with access restrictions and limited or no circulation.

Examples of Academic Fanzine Libraries

  • M.I.T.'s science fiction library contains some fan materials; it is just one example of the small collections pocketed into larger ones in academic libraries; these collections were started by students and by academics who used libraries as a depositories for materials used in research
  • Bowling Green State University's Browne Popular Culture Library. BSGU began collecting a wide range of popular culture material in the late 1960s, ranging from posters, to buttons, collectibles, fanzines and more. While their catalog lists 5000 zines, the bulk are general science fiction or other types of fanzines. As of July 2011, the library contains approximately 97 slash zines, with around 300 gen fanzines.
  • ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archive K/S Collection. This archive houses the world's largest research library on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered heritage and concerns. Starting in 2007, they began listing 67 slash zines as part of their K/S fanzine Collection.
  • Temple University's Enterprising Women Collection. Temple University hosts a number of fanzines related to Camille Bacon-Smith's book Enterprising Women (the "Enterprising Women Collection"). They may also host a smaller Star Trek collection that focuses on Klingons (the "Sue Frank Klingon/Star Trek" collection). These collections are part of the larger Paskow Science Fiction Fanzine Collection. The finding aid for the collections are not available online so their dates and contents remain unknown. In 2007, a visitor to the Sue Frank Klingon/Star Trek collection describes "six linear feet...of fanzines and organizational newsletters. These were assembled by Dr. Frank from groups within and outside of the U.S. -- fan groups are to be found in Britain, New Zealand, and Italy, among other places. The titles include "Klingon Assault Group Force Recon," "The Pillage Voice," "Engage!," "Disruptor," and "Something Else." The newsletters reflect the range of Klingon-related activities afoot in the terran world. They contain drawings, photos, recipes, letters, poems, stories, technical information, and analyses of many aspects of Klingon language and culture." [3]
  • Texas A&M Cushing Library Fanzine Collection: TAMU began collecting general science fiction material in 1970 and added media fandom material in 2011. In addition to general media fanzines, TAMU also houses Susan Frank's Klingon Fanzine collection. As of October 2013, TAMU became the first university to begin a special collection just for filk material.


  1. "The first-ever Star Trek fan event, organized by Sherna Burley, actually took place in March, 1969, at the Newark Public Library, as TOS was ending. It wasn't a convention, just a small (if still kind of formal) gathering, with no actors from the series, just a slide show" from Star Trek Conventions in the Seventies by BoG dated April 15, 2010; WebCite
  2. See the M.Horvat's Science Fiction Fanzine Collection which contains over 15,000 science fiction fanzines
  3. Klingons at Temple, posted October 19, 2007 to the PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative blog.