13 February 2005

Greg Beatty Saves the World!

Well, not quite the world. Just a historical collection of 250,000 science fiction fanzines. And not Greg alone, but it wouldn't have happened without him.

Let's work backward. In December, I noted that Boing Boing had pointed to an Ebay auction of Mike Horvat's phenomenal collection of fanzines. I said then, somewhat wistfully, "Somebody should get a library or institution of some sort to bid on these -- this sounds like a unique and valuable collection."

Apparently, Greg Beatty thought the same thing, because, according to a press release from the University of Iowa,
It would never have happened ... if a former student of [Rob] Latham's, Greg Beatty, a UI alumnus who graduated in 2000, had not stumbled across a listing showing the collection for sale while looking at online auction houses one night. Knowing how valuable the collection would be, he immediately emailed Latham.

"Mr. Horvat put his collection up for sale on eBay because the rented building he stored it in had been sold and the new owner was going to demolish the building," Latham said. "The local fire department was going to burn it down to practice fighting fires, so if he couldn't give or sell his collection to someone, it would probably have been burned with the building."

No one had upped Horvat's initial asking bid of only $5,000 when Latham first saw it, but the way that online auctions work, prices tend to skyrocket during the final minutes of bidding, he said.

"As thorough and as valuable as this collection was, we knew there would be a high demand and the final sale price could easily shoot well out of our price range," Latham said.

So Latham persuaded Horvat to remove the collection from eBay and instead let the university take possession of it as a scholarly resource.

"It wasn't too difficult to persuade him because he preferred to keep the collection intact," Latham said. "The fact it would be available to the public and provide an important resource for academic research also appealed to him."
A guide to the collection has already been posted.

(via Library & Information Service News)

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