As part of its research strategy, the Department of Library & Information Science, CityLIS, at City, University of London, explores the liminal areas between disciplines, seeking out new conversations, innovative practice, new methodologies, and the as yet undiscovered ways in which the processes of the information communication chain can be further refined and understood.
Recently the fan studies community has become interested in building bridges between different cultures and disciplines, with Dr.Naomi Jones, during the Fan Studies Network Conference 2018, emphasising the importance of interdisciplinarity in moving the field forward. This challenge was taken up by Kelley, Price, Schuster and Wang in the Fan Studies Network Conference of 2019, where they presented their interdisciplinary, collaborative project on fandom, which started in the Spring of 2018. This collaboration brought together scholars from the fields of cultural studies, the digital humanities, and library and information science to talk about fandom and fan practice, and has allowed a wider exchange of ideas between disciplines.
In common with fan studies, library and information science has a keen interest in the utility of their research outside the field, and in understanding to what extent it produces an impact outside its own disciplinary boundaries. For example, while library and information science (LIS) has a rich history of user studies, its impact outside of the field is less clear, despite multidisciplinary studies being shown to have more impact (Ellegaard & Wallin, 2015). Thus, it would seem that this is the perfect opportunity to bring members of these two disciplines – fan studies and LIS – together, in order to move the concept of ‘interdisciplinarity’ away from just a subject of conversation, towards something real and tangible.
Fan practice shows many parallels with the interests of information professionals, such as librarians, archivists and curators. Fans are ardent collectors (Geraghty, 2014); they take pride in the classification of their work; they develop best practice in the preservation of fanworks (Swalwell et al., 2017); and as some of the first adopters of the internet (Jenkins, 2006), they are comfortable using technological innovations which many information professionals have yet to embrace. Other fan activities with which LIS has overlapping engagement are the publishing of fanfiction as mainstream literature (Peckosie & Hill, 2015), classification of fanfiction, such as on the Archive of Our Own (Price, 2019), and copyright, to name but a few. Rarely, however, does LIS literature acknowledge the relevance of work carried out in the fan studies discipline, e.g. Versaphile’s (2011) look at the preservation of fannish history and Johnson’s (2014) look at fanfiction metadata. Likewise, there is little evidence that fan studies authors are aware of the rich troves of relevant work carried out within the LIS discipline. This creates a significant lacuna in knowledge, which could be assuaged by a less siloed approach to research conversations.
The CityLIS FanStudies Project pulls together previous work we have undertaken along the boundary of fanstudies and LIS, and hopes to create a framework for future collaboration and research.