Saving Fanworks with the Open Doors Project

Fanworks come in many shapes and sizes, including fan art, fan video of all flavours, fan fic, fan craft, and more! And many fans’ work is the labour of love of collecting fanworks and giving them a home. Some collections of fanworks are themed and moderated, others welcome all comers, but they’re all special and represent lots of work on the part of their mods and maintainers. Zine editors, vid librarians, archive mods, and all the other wonderful people who give homes to collections of fanworks so that other fans can share in their delights, we value your endeavours!

One of the things that makes fandom special is the way that it makes a home in all sorts of diverse places. We love the diversity of fannish homes, from small town zine collections stored in a dedicated fan’s bottom drawer, to vast online archives filled with a variety of different fanworks. But sometimes fannish collections need a new home — and that’s where our Open Doors committee comes in.

When the code for an online archive is stuttering and dying, or a zine collection has grown too large for one fan to house, or the maintainers of a much-loved archive have moved on to a new fandom, or left fandom entirely, or left this life, Open Doors steps in (on request, of course!) to save fanworks and collections of fanworks from disappearing.

Sometimes this means opening our doors to physical fanworks. In collaboration with the University of Iowa, our Fan Culture Preservation Project preserves fannish ephemera such as zines, fannish flyers, paper memorabilia, and con programs. Among the collections we’ve preserved so far are the Fanzine Archives and the Morgan Dawn Fanzine and Fanvid Collection.

And sometimes it means opening our doors to digital fanworks. For online archives which need a new home, our Open Doors Special Collections Project imports at-risk archives onto the Archive of Our Own. We successfully ran our first test case for our mass importer in early 2012: we’re proud to preserve the legacy of the much-loved fan Minotaur by giving the Smallville Slash Archive a new home. We also preserve digital fanworks which can’t be hosted on the AO3, such as Zoetrope’s multimedia work Missed the Saturday Dance.

We’re joyful that we’re able to preserve the work of other fans by providing new homes for the collections which have been so lovingly curated by others. One of the things which makes this work possible is the generosity of fans who donate to the OTW and thus fund administration costs, transport for zine collections, servers for the AO3, and other hosting costs. Please help us continue to preserve these fannish histories by donating today. And if you’ve got about 15 minutes to spare, let us know what you think of the OTW and its projects by taking our OTW Community Survey. Thank you!