CSSF Research Center

Open to Serve SF Readers and Researchers

Our reading resources include a large, diverse library of SF novels, anthologies, scholarly works, magazines, photographs, multimedia recordings, and much more. The LibraryThing widget to the right shows some of the books available, courtesy of Tommy Triplett, whose interest in vintage SF covers led to creating that sample catalog of some of our works.

The Center was founded in 1982 as a focus for the science-fiction programs that James Gunn created at the University of Kansas beginning in 1969 - when he offered one of the very first SF courses in academia. Since then, we have served the SF community in many ways, including research materials held at the large SF Special Collection at the Spencer Library. This was the KU Library system's fastest-growing special collection, mostly through gifts. However, when the libraries changed their acquisition policies, we found ourselves having to reject donations of materials that the Library could no longer accept. Additionally, much of the Library's SF collection was going uncatalogued due to space and labor limitations (happily, new management at the Library has shifted resources to address this!).

All this changed with the 2007 move, when the Center finally found a physical location first in 3081 Wescoe Hall at KU and finally in room 3040. Starting with the Summer 2007 semester, scholars researching SF now have access to about 30,000 books, magazines, and other materials, plus work space, including a desk and computer; our Campbell and Sturgeon Awards are on display; and donations unsuitable for the Library finally have a home. This space also ensures that our AboutSF student employee also have space to work, surrounded by SF resources. Come visit us and take advantage of our research materials!

If you would like to donate materials for SF scholars and writers to use in this new space, let us know. We collect and make available media materials, art, photographs, audio materials, and of course books and magazines. So if you have something taking up space in your attic that an SF researcher might find useful, send it to us!

Here is our physical address if you wish to visit:

Center for the Study of Science Fiction
3040 Wescoe Hall
1445 Jayhawk Blvd.
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS  66045

Note that our mailing address is slightly different, as mail goes through the main English Department office:

Center for the Study of Science Fiction
Department of English
1445 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 3001
Lawrence, KS  66045

A quick history of the CSSF offices

February 9, 2013: On a cold Saturday in Kansas, a crew of dedicated individuals boarded the USS CSSF for a 14-hour trip to other worlds. We fought chaos and monsters, breathed animated clouds of microbes, wrestled with steel towers, and culled invading clones. In other words, we tackled the tumbling mountains of books known as the "Center for the Study of Science Fiction Lending Library," some 50,000 books, tens of thousands of magazines, posters, art, clippings, trophies, and so on, and tried to put it into a semblance of usable order.

Donations over the last decade had gotten out of hand such that it was nearly impossible to find anything amid the heaps, so we began by pulling all the books off the shelves (some 24 of them) and out of unopened recent-donation boxes (some 50 of those). We sorted these by letter of the alphabet (and magazines, and nonfiction, and multi-author collections) along three huge hallways, starting with two sorting tables and one unboxing station.

Some folks, particularly Dan Dutcher and Forest Bell, spent a good part of the day unbagging (the majority of the books were placed in sandwich bags years or decades ago to protect against bugs) and pulling duplicates. Others spent the time sorting, culling, and de-bagging when they had a chance. This stage consumed the vast majority of our time, from 10:00am on Saturday until past dinner (we took a lunch break for pizza delivered by Alex Hall and a dinner break at Chutney's downtown, plus chips and carrots and beverages all day).

Next stage, when the room was emptied of books, was moving the two desks (Chris McKitterick's and the AboutSF Coordinator's), moving the shelves into a much saner and less claustrophobia-inducing arrangement (thanks to Kij Johnson's clever layout plan), where Chris can for the first time in years see the door to the office and people can walk through without having to remove a backpack - and this is with two more shelving units in the space!

Once we had everything cleared out and rearranged some time around 10:00pm, it was time to start reloading the shelves. The A section begins on the left as you enter, wrapping around to my desk at about H. In the far corner are teaching materials, writing books, nonfiction, and Chris' publications. A center island of four back-to-back shelves holds much of I-J-K-L, and the alphabet resumes behind the AboutSF desk (situated right as one enters the room rather than buried behind towers as before). By the end, we even had a few spaces empty! Good thing, too, because we double-shelved a lot of the paperbacks, assuming much of those would end up getting culled over time as we sort through and de-bag the remaining books.

In addition to those tagged above, a huge thank-you goes out to: Isaac Bell, Ruth Lichtwardt, Samantha Bishop Simmons, Nick Simmons, Miles Tugman, Megan Tugman, William Tienken, and Mackenzie VanBeest.

We plan to host have a grand re-opening some time in the winter of 2013-2014 to show off what's available, but for now, it's at least navigable and usable. WOOHOO!

To both sides you'll see photos from this day.


Our offices in 2007, looking toward James Gunn's first corner office,
attached through the doorway.

Spring 2009: The Center's office re-opens for visitors!

Summer 2008: Members of the KU Science Fiction Club helped pack up the Center's office for the move. Thanks to Chris K, Court F, Matt M, and Nate for getting everything in boxes in just a couple of hours!

November 29, 2007: The Center hosted an Open House, complete with snacks, beverages, and of course research resources. Our little house-warming celebrated science fiction in grand style; thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out what the Center has to offer!

Summer 2007: The Center for the Study of Science Fiction gets an office! Already we have filled six bookshelves, part of a file cabinet, and various surfaces with materials, and visiting scholars from around the world have stopped by to take advantage of our resources.


Open House from 2007.
Note James Gunn's Hugo Award beneath the window.

Updated 10/30/2013.

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