From Facebook and Nalo Hopkinson’s blog today we learn that the new administrators of the UC Riverside library system are not nearly as supportive of the Eaton science fiction collection as the old administrators were.
There’s talk of breaking up the collection, shifting it to digital instead of physical, reducing support and reducing funding.
Nalo (she teaches Creative Writing at UCR) has this to say:
“The SF/F research cluster was created to promote UCR’s Eaton Science Fiction Collection, the world’s largest publicly accessible archive of SF/F and utopian literature, with holdings dating back to the 16th Century. The presence of the Eaton means that I can introduce my creative writing students to a legacy of 500 years of fiction celebrating, articulating and critiquing social and technological change. When my students visit the Eaton, it’s the first time they’ve seen anything like it. They come back excited, informed, energized. The existence of the Eaton means that researchers from all over the university and anywhere in the world have access to original copies of books, magazines, visual media and fanzines to help them track developments in the genre. Editors can find classic works that have fallen into obscurity. The complete papers and works of some key writers in the genre are housed there, as are thousands of photographs taken at science fiction conventions by the late Jay Kay Klein, a well-known figure in SF fandom, renowned for his work as a photographer”
“So I’m sad to have to report that new library administration doesn’t seem to appreciate the value of the Eaton Collection or the expertise that goes into it. Since spring of this year, their accomplishments have included driving out staff members and pushing changes to collection policies that would reduce the Eaton’s holdings, its value to researchers and as a repository of our community’s history, and its standing as a world-class archive. Meetings with the staff of the Eaton have been productive, collegial gatherings. Meetings to negotiate with the new library administration, not so much. It’s putting the faculty of the research cluster in the alarming position of having to protect the very collection we’re charged with fostering.”
Rob Latham, author and one of Nalo’s teaching cluster compatriots offers this:
“…since May it has become clear to me that our new library administration not only doesn’t appreciate the tremendous resource that we have but are actively and systematically working to undermine it. They have driven out long-serving and cherished members of its staff, have proposed policies that would result in the gutting of the Collection as a world-class archive, and have generally caused me and my colleagues in the SF and Technoculture Studies program nothing but grief.
I would say that I take solace from the fact that the Eaton is a solidly established, 45-year-old year institution in the field and that it will survive them, but to be honest I’m no longer sure that’s true. Those of you who consider yourselves stakeholders in the Collection, stay tuned–we may need your help and support very soon.”
Sad. Reminds me of being told that I was “wasting my time on that brain-rotting escapist blather that will never amount to anything”, except of course create the entire world we’re living in today.
Please keep this at the top of your agenda of things that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT and give Nalo, Rob and the rest of the Eaton Collection team as much support and assistance as you can muster.