October Membership Drive: Preserving Archives Through Open Doors
Sometimes fanworks vanish from the Web when they weren't intended to. Hosting services shut down; software becomes obsolete; archivists pass away or simply find that they no longer have the time or money to keep up their sites. Any of these occurrences can result in the loss of thousands of fanworks. The OTW's Open Doors project is a resource to help fans prevent such losses.
Open Doors works with fannish archivists to import fanworks from endangered archives into the Archive of Our Own. Approximately 11,600 works have been imported to date. Some archives can be imported automatically, but in most cases the Open Doors staff assist archive mods to manually import their archives into the the AO3. Manual importing involves creating an AO3 collection for the archive, contacting as many fanwork creators as possible, and then importing the works and editing them to indicate their original creators. These archives can be large or small — we’ve worked with designated archivists to import small collections of works of deceased fans, and we've worked with archives containing over 5,000 works. The process of manual importing can be time-consuming, but we think it’s worth it!
Open Doors has completed imports for three archives so far. The Foresmutters Project, an archive of early Star Trek slash that is also mirrored on OTW servers, has been migrated to a forever home on the AO3 where it is more accessible. The Smallville Slash Archive and 852 Prospect, an archive for The Sentinel fanfiction, have been imported as well. We also imported Kista and Demeter, two early Star Trek novels, which were first hosted on OTW servers as scanned PDFs. This involved using optical character recognition to turn the PDFs into editable text and then, in the case of Demeter, painstakingly comparing the results to a print copy of the original 304-page zine to correct any errors in the electronic copy.
Imports currently in progress include The Good Omens Library; GSSU - German Speaking Slashers United; the Dannell Lites Collection, a memorial archive consisting chiefly of DC and Marvel comics fanfiction; the Leah Adezio Archive, a memorial archive consisting chiefly of DC Comics fanfiction and fanart, and original comics; and Stargatefan, an archive of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis gen fanfiction and fanart.
We also have several archives stored as backups in case of failing hardware, software, and/or hosting issues, and are working with the mods to manually import them or to keep them safe until automated import code is available.
To inquire about preserving an archive, please contact the Open Doors committee. And to support our ongoing preservation efforts, please donate to the OTW today! Your support will help to ensure that the fanworks you love will be around for future generations of fans to enjoy.