Fan Culture Preservation Project
Do you have zines, fannish flyers, paper memorabilia, or con programs that you can’t keep anymore, but can't bear to throw out? The OTW can help!
The Fan Culture Preservation Project is a partnership between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries dedicated to preserving fan artifacts such as letterzines, fanzines, and other non-digital fanworks and memorabilia.
The OTW has helped many fans to establish named collections at Iowa (see the library's page of Fandom-Related Collections); fans who wish not to be named can donate to the general collection: Organization for Transformative Works Fanzine and Fan Fiction Collection.
Please see the FAQ or contact the Open Doors committee for more information about donating zines or other artifacts of fan culture. (Open Doors can also help you preserve digital fanworks in cooperation with other OTW projects, like the Archive of Our Own and Fanlore.)
Why is Fan Culture Preservation important?
As Greg Prickman, Assistant Head of Special Collections at the University of Iowa, notes, "fan culture pre-dates and anticipates our modern remix mash-up internet culture." The Special Collections department has a strong interest in preserving zines and fan culture: Iowa is already home to a huge (250,000-item) collection of science fiction and fantasy zines and APA zines, as well as a collection of Riot Grrrl and Underground Music zines.
Protecting and preserving transformative fanworks and the innovative communities from which they have arisen is at the heart of OTW's mission. Letterzines and fanzines are the tangible artifacts (and evidence of the existence) of the longstanding nature of our fan communities, many of which were historically underground. As our works are lost and people gafiate or pass away, that history vanishes.
The OTW also believes in making fannish activities as accessible as possible to all those who wish to participate. By partnering with the University of Iowa, a major research institution, we are helping to put these artifacts of fan culture in a central, accessible, nonprofit place. Iowa not only has the facilities to send out photocopies, but we are also exploring digitization options so that fans and scholars who cannot physically get there can still have access to materials.
What qualifies for the collection? Here are some examples:
- Physical copies of fanzines, letterzines, newsletters, clubzines, adzines, and zine flyers.
- Fannish ephemera: fan made calendars or posters, convention materials, (program guides, flyers, t-shirts, panel handouts, and convention badges), broadsides, fan made buttons, and fan made scrapbooks.
- Circuit stories.
- Photography or video recordings of fannish conventions (vid shows, fan skits, panels, or fans) or written or oral accounts of fannish life (E.g., Media Fandom Oral History Project).
- Fan artwork (originals and prints) and crafts. (E.g., paper dolls)
- Songvids on DVD (these can be VHS video transfers onto DVD or DVDs of more recent vids).
- Personal correspondence between fans or between fans and the studios or writers. Personal journals are accepted if they pertain to fannish life (a convention, a fan club, or publishing a zine).
- Officially licensed materials.
Materials That Do Not Qualify:
- Personal journals that cover non-fandom events.
- Unaltered screencaps.
- Unedited / non-transformative video clips.
Note to donors: If your collection contains a small amount of these items and sorting and removing these materials would be time-consuming or a hardship, please contact Open Doors to discuss.
Reading Room policies for the University of Iowa’s Special Collections & University Archives can be found on this page.
The first major donation brokered by OTW was the Fanzine Archives, a collection of over 3,000 classic zines — more than 62 boxes! — previously housed in Santa Barbara, CA. The OTW was able to help the retiring archivist, Ming Wathne, save and protect this valuable collection, which is now cataloged in a finding aid on the library website. Since that time, we have helped many other longtime fans donate their collections to the library.
You can see our list of FCPP collections on this page, or by searching the University of Iowa Libraries' Zine Collections.