As this year’s theme of Stepping Stones reminds us, our future is built on our past. No OTW project better exemplifies that than Open Doors, which is dedicated to preserving fanworks for future generations.
In the past, fanworks were not as easy to access as they are now. Before the age of modern websites, fandoms were only able to be celebrated in fanzines, newsletters, and clubs. Fan videos were created using VCRs. Conventions had fan-made T-shirts, buttons, and calendars whose pictures were not able to be instantly posted to Facebook and Tumblr. Open Doors has helped memorialize these contributions through the Fan Culture Preservation Project. This project is a partnership between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Library where non-digital fanworks donated from private collections have been preserved for future generations.
In the present, we have seen entire archives disappear due to host server shutdowns, lack of funds, or outdated software; Open Doors works to help save these archives from disappearing entirely. They have worked on everything from helping archives import their works to AO3, to backing up archives in case hosting services shut down before they can be moved, to digitizing a classic fan novel series (with the permission of the author) in an attempt to save fanworks from disappearing entirely. The next major milestone will be the importing of the original Yuletide archive, scheduled for next month. Open Doors has also assisted in importing the Good Omens Library, GSSU- German Speaking Slashers United archive, the Dannell Lites archive, and the Leah Adezio archive.
For the road ahead, Open Doors is working to improve the automated import process and to prevent loss by working with archive mods on estate planning so that in the event of an untimely death an archive will not be lost. By being proactive, Open Doors hopes to prevent the inevitable issues that arise from such losses, and to protect these fanworks.
All of this is funded by the OTW through your donations. Take a moment to think about your favorite fic (the one you go back to and reread all the time), that fanart you reblogged twice because you wanted it to stay on your dashboard, that fanvid that was so enjoyable it got a song you had never heard before stuck in your head for three days. Think about whether you want those to be around for others to enjoy in the future. By taking a moment to donate to the OTW, you are helping to protect and preserve all of these. You are ensuring that your fandom will be around for you and others to enjoy, inspiring future generations.