Make It So: The Convention Repository

Awhile ago I interviewed Jeremy Brett and Lauren Schiller¬†who were working on a fandom/filk archive. Of course I recommend you go back, read it if you haven’t, then donate a lot of stuff to them. Go on. I’ll wait.

OK, so welcome back. Anyway, I figured that the benefits of this geek archiving are obvious. But just to list them for the sake of completion:

  1. We do a lot of stuff as fans, geeks, otaku.
  2. This is part of our history, our cultural history, and indeed culture history period.
  3. We should really preserve it.
  4. Are you really going to do anything with that pile of ‘zines?

This, in turn, gave me an idea of for a Make It So . . .

Maike It So: The Convention Repository

I go to conventions YOu go to conventions. We all go to conventions. Giant dense clots of nerddom where things happen. They’re part of our “sene.”

So let’s use them to gather geek history for these archives. Here’s what we should do:

  1. Conventions should ally with various fandom archives (or start their own). These alliances would preferably be local, but that’s not always easy, relevant, or there is nothing local. Either way, find someone.
  2. Conventions should then have a Repository, a dropoff point that is highly publicized where people can drop off actual fannish materials for archiving. ‘Zines, newsletters, convention booklets, or what ever is relevant. That might be dictated by the rules of the Allied archive above.
  3. Beyond just dropping off material, people would be strongly encouraged to leave records behind on what they’d done and how it was relevant. Preferably forms would be provided online so people can print them out and just do them ahead of time.
  4. After gathering said information, the Convention would report on everything they’d collected, perhaps even posting a list in an update (of course people should be assumed to be donating anonymously unless they say otherwise). This would encourage people to, well, keep doing it.
  5. The collected materials would then be shipped off to the Archive in question.
  6. Repeat yearly.

Imagine what could be gathered year after year, catalogued, organized, and archived. As this became a regular thing to do at a few conventions, the idea would spread. More and more materials would be saved – and less thrown out because “oh I can donate it at the con” would be in people’s mind. ¬†People might even start sending stuff to the archives directly (which defeats some of the purpose, but we’ll deal with that if it happens).

The Benefits Of The Convention Repository

Though I touched on some of them, the benefits spelled out are:

  1. Preserving history in an effective and fun manner.
  2. Spreading the word of preserving geek history.
  3. Creating new alliances among people, conventions, and repositories.
  4. Creating new awareness of geek history.
  5. Having new, awesome events at conventions that ae historically instructive. Or historically humiliating when you realize that was your old fanart.

The only issues I see are that if you have a “full time” repository that you’ll need someone to man it, and that might not e necessary. There are other ways it could be done. In fact, let’s explore those now . . .

Variants on The Convention Repository

There’s also a few ways this could be done differently.

  • It could be part of the registration desk where people are asked for archival material when they get their badges. Maybe even provide a discount if people donate material.
  • Place it in the Dealer’s Room, though space may be at a premium. People are always going to be in there anyway, so why not put it where the traffic is?
  • Have it happen at specific events, where people are encouraged to bring their materials. Of course these should be relevant events, such as on cultural history, so the appropriate audience attends. Not everyone is going to be able to attend this though, so you want another dropoff spot.
  • Have an actual donation event where you make a party of it. People come, discuss history, bring their stuff, and more. You could even have food and snacks – maybe the price of entry is the donation. A history party.

I’m sure you can brainstorm even more.

So What’s Next?

You’ve got the idea. It’s not as if it’s a particularly complex one. Go make it happen!

There’s many ways it can be done, I’m sure, these are just a few suggestions.

Go forth and archive!

– Steven Savage