Transformative works, such as fan fiction and fanvids are a sticky subject for librarians. Should librarians provide access to and market these resources the way we market other library resources? If fair use can be confirmed, there’s no problem, but what of resources in the gray area? Certainly comsumer demand for transformative works exists—look at the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Yet some brilliant transformative works sample proprietary works that are not in the public domain. What do we do about these? Case in point: Here’s a transformative work that reimagines The Big Lebowski, if it had been written by Shakespeare.
Brilliant? Clearly. Hilarious? Obviously! Cultural value? I think so!
What’s an ethical librarian to do?
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Dr. Martens encouraged me to build my public speaking skills by writing and presenting a paper at a conference. After some exploration, I became interested in transformative works, such as fan fiction, and the library profession’s stance in relation to these works. I had no experience and little knowledge of fan fiction, but as I conducted the research for my paper, I discovered that fan fiction is deeply ingrained in our culture and in some instances may represent a form of cultural commentary. The history of literature is replete with the resurrection and recycling of literary characters. Observing the interactive nature of today’s cultural products, from video games to social networking, I began to consider the value and the prevalence of interactive literature. My research gave me the opportunity to wrestle with the balance between the ethics, values and foundational principles of the library profession and the legal framework within which libraries operate. If fan fiction constitutes fair use, then libraries have a responsibility to provide their service communities with access to and information about fan fiction resources. This assertion became the premise of my paper, “Fans of Democracy: Where Does Fan Fiction Fit in the Library?”
Dr. Martens recommended that I present my paper at the Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Conference
, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As I had not flown in an airplane since I was four years old, had never purchased a plane ticket, and had never presented a paper at a conference, I viewed this event with some trepidation. Despite my anxieties and the sudden onslaught of a terrible head cold, I attended the conference and presented my paper, which generated much interest and several questions from the audience. I am very happy that I took this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and stretch my professional wings.
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