Jan Sutter

Crystal Rose Library





You have spent several years running the Crystal Rose Lending Library, guaranteeing that fans who would like to read zines have the opportunity to do just that. We offer you our heartfelt appreciation for all the hours and effort you contribute to others.



Who are you?



Tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests in general.


I’m 55 years old, born in Houston and moved out to Pearland in 1959, been here most of my life. My sister and I have a bookkeeping/tax service that we moved out here to the 10 acres back in 1987. She is pretty tolerant of my B & B obsession. I even drug her along to one of the conventions in Florida one year… She’s such a tart, told Ron that she was getting a picture signed for me and so he signed a special one for her and even gave her a kiss on the cheek. See if I take her again. lol.


I got married in 2004 to a wonderful guy that anyone who has been to a convention in the past five years has met. I think he has as much fun at a convention as I do. He loves Jay!  They talk “boy” talk when they get together.



What drew you to the Beauty and the Beast TV series and when did that happen?  Why did you/do you feel the need to work so hard to provide such a wonderful service for other fans?


1987 was a memorable year for me. In 1986 a very dear friend of mine died and on January 1st of 1987 my younger brother died. My sister got married on Valentines Day and we moved the business out here to the house. From the first promo of the show, I knew it was something I had to watch. I think I even bought a VCR just to tape the show from the beginning. I was hooked from the first second. I think I wanted a love that deep and lived vicariously through the show.


As far as working hard to provide a service, I guess it started out as a way to keep a service that I had enjoyed alive. And now, I get a special feeling inside knowing that I can give something back. The ladies and their appreciation say it all.



The Crystal Rose Lending Library:



For those of us who are not familiar with the Crystal Rose Lending Library (CRLL), could you tell us briefly what it is and how it works?


The Library is pretty simple. Most of the ladies send a check to cover actual postage plus $1.00 for the shipping supplies along with a list of zines they would like to read and I send them as many of their picks as can fit in a box. After they are finished reading the zines, they just mail them back along with a new list and a check for the next batch. Because of the weight of the zines, we try to stick with media mail, which saves the ladies a bit. In the old days, priority worked well and was faster but with the changing postal rates, priority is a bit much. As far as getting started, the easiest way would be to drop me a note, either email or snail mail and request a zine list and order form.



Tell us about the Crystal Rose. When was it established? What was its purpose? How did you become a part of it, and how were you involved?


I had to get some help with this one. I wasn’t around at the beginning so I dropped JoAnn Grant a note and here is most of the story:


Around 1990, she and Vicki Thomas were on their way home from a B & B meeting and decided to start a fan club there in NC. I would imagine the name came pretty easily, such a lovely name. She said the main purpose of the Crystal Rose was to be in contact with other fans. It was fun and hard work. They went to several of the early conventions, first one being in Las Vegas, and got to meet some of their members and got several interviews with members of the cast.


The Library was started after the first convention they attended, with zines from their own collections plus donations from other fans, due to the fact that they were getting requests from members to read some of the zines. Sandy P. Shelton got in touch with Jo Ann with a zine she had written and they started putting her stories in the newsletter.  Then more fans started sending in material for the newsletter, which included Judy Lloyd as you can see from the website. There are still a lot of the stories out there for your enjoyment. Sandy C. Shelton sent them some of her artwork for zines, and that really kicked off the zine sales.


The fan club and web site were active for about 10 years and then life started getting in the way as it so often does.



When did The Crystal Rose open the first lending library? Why did the group decide to take on such a responsibility, and how did they stock the library at the beginning? Did any of the zines come from the members’ personal collections?


About 1991, to fill request by members of the fan club. All of the zines came from their own collections at first and then grew through donations.



How many other librarians were there before you, or have you been the only one? How did you end up as fandom's librarian?


As far as I know, Vicki Thomas was in charge of the library for years. When life got a bit hectic, I jumped in. You have to remember, I had joined both CABB and CR for the libraries. I think I had about three zines that I had gotten at a small private convention in Houston in the early years and had no way of getting more. So when I found out about Fan Clubs and Libraries, I signed up. I guess I was one of the more pesky borrowers and when it looked like they were going to shut it down, I volunteered. That must have been about 1998. I remember trying to figure out how I was going to get 300 zines from North Carolina to Texas. What we ended up doing was; they boxed them up (about 7 BIG boxes) and sent them by airfreight. I remember picking them up at the airport and bringing them home, sitting in the middle of the floor, putting them in order - like a kid in a candy store.



How did/do you acquire new zines for the library? eBay? Donations? Private sales? Word of mouth? Have you personally invested in providing for the library?


I am always looking for more zines. eBay is my favorite haunt, and donations are always welcome. Private sales are wonderful, but so hard to find out about. I remember one such sale, although I don’t remember the name, I bought tons of zines and other memorabilia from this sale. And then when CABB decided to close their library, they were kind enough to let me know in advance and pick out zines that the CR didn’t have at the time and purchase them. That added probably 50 or so zines at least, possibly more. When I got the library, there were 300 zines listed but 50 were missing, not having been returned by the borrowers, and there didn’t seem to be any record of who had what. Those 50 were my first priority, to fill those empty spots. Happy to say they did get filled.


Needless to say, I have invested a lot in the library, as the count now is over 800, with about 3 file drawers of duplicates that haven’t been added into the count. Several of the ladies have donated zines… and I would like to mention one name in particular, a special thank you to Joan Stephens for helping to replace several zines that have not been returned here of late. There are several more that have donated substantially to the library. One in particular, for some reason known only to her, likes to remove the covers!  I have no idea why and would absolutely love it, if she didn’t. But then, the covers aren’t the most important part of the zine (although I can think of a couple that the covers are the BEST part. lol)



Does anyone ever offer cash donations to use for additional zine purchases? A number of Winterfest guests are likely to read this interview, and some of them may be deciding what to do with an overabundance of zines, or may have somehow ended up with two copies of the same one. If a fan would like to donate something to CRLL, how would you recommend going about it? Do you have specific guidelines for donations?


A few of the borrowing ladies do send in a little extra and tell me to keep it for additional zine purchases, which is a very nice thing to do. I am in the process of setting up the library in the new building.  Right now, I am out of room for more filing cabinets. At the office (thanks to Sis) there are five four drawer file cabinets with an over flow of four boxes and roll around tubs for the 800+ with one stuffed drawer of duplicates, so I am figuring two more filing cabinets will at least take care of the present collection and allow me to go ahead and number the duplicates. I would like to pick out the duplicates that we have more than three copies of and take them to next years convention in Denver to sell to raise some dollars for more zines. Anyone wishing to donate zines might want to get a copy of the full library list and that way they would be able to see if there is already a copy in the library, or more than one. Duplicates are fine with me; it just allows me to fill the requests when one is out. There are really no guidelines. I have gotten zines in the mail with a note, “Put these in the library.”, and I gladly do it.



Are your zines a part of the library, or do you keep your own "private stash" separate?


I actually have a pretty extensive collection here at the house, three four-drawer file cabinets. Some of these tend to be the one of a kind, xxx rated ones that I just haven’t been about to find a copy for the library. I do have a separate listing for the zines in my collection that I have been known to lend out, especially to those ladies that have been with me a long time.



What was the first zine in the library? The latest acquisition?


The first zines in the library were “The Book of Secrets” set from Vickie Thomas’s own collection and one of the latest acquisitions is “Passages of Time” which I think I got at this years convention. I’ve got a bid out at ebay right now for another zine, but I think, if I get it, it might be one of those that go into my collection. It’s a little different, I like different.



What is the most popular zine? The most rare? The most overlooked? The one readers are most surprised that they enjoyed?


Ok, I popped up to the office and looked at my check out sheet. It is a little deceptive since some zines have more than one copy and I would have to compare the names and number in those cases, but…Dreams of Thee has been checked out at least 19 times followed by One Day, A Rapture that has been checked out 15 times.  With Coming Out of the Dark, Bondstories VIII, All That Lights Upon Us II and Love Bade Me Welcome coming in with 13 each.


As to rare – there are a lot of zines that I have never seen so I would have to say those were rare, but a special mention needs to be made about “Sleepless in Providence”.  This zine is a collection of letters between Vincent and Catherine. All the envelopes are there, and it is tied together with a bow. It is in its original form and was most generously donated to the library by the “Follow Your Heart” convention organizers. 


As to overlooked…tastes in reading material vary so much, as do feelings about “classic” as opposed to “3rd Season”, 4th Season, or alternate reality zines, that it would be impossible to say one was overlooked. Personally, I enjoy all of them, and anyone that doesn’t read them all is “overlooking” possible reading enjoyment.



What zine(s) do you not have that you would like to get your hands on for the library?


That’s easy; any zine the library does not have… especially if there isn’t one in my collection either. I print a list from the QFER of the known zines that are not in the library to take with me to all conventions…. The list continues to get smaller and smaller.


A little secret. If you come across one of the B & B yahoo groups with the library database on it, there is a column that says CR at the top, if there is a number there, it’s in the library, then next to it, is a column that says Jan, you’ll find Y’s for yes which means I have it, and W’s for wants. Those are some special ones that have been on my list for a long time, probably very hard to find zines, or I would already have it by now.



How many people do you estimate have borrowed from the CRLL?


About 40 since I took over. I don’t have any records before that. And before I took it over, you had to be a member of the Crystal Rose fan club to borrow zines.



Do you have regular customers? Repeat customers for the same zine?


Oh, very definitely yes on regulars. Joan has read just about all of them. She always checks out the bottom of the list for the new ones now-a-days. Marilyn Howard has also read just about every zine (unless the “D” person appears)


And if Eve is reading this, how many times did you check out “A Time For Us”? LOL, I started looking for an extra copy to just give her!



What are your time limits for borrowing? Do people generally return zines on time? How do you handle it when zines are lost or damaged or simply not returned?


I’m not terribly strict on the time limit, and over the past couple of years, I have developed a pattern. The stated time limit is two months. What I try to do is do the mail out about every two months, so if you don’t have them back, well, you could be looking at another two months wait. Right now I have about five people who have not returned zines. I have a list in the database section of several of the yahoo groups with a list of those names and what zines were not returned. I’ve tried email, snail mail and phone calls for all of those. When this happens, it is very depressing. Sometimes I think about just not sending any out, but my ladies are so appreciative and thankful to get zines, it would not be the least bit fair to them or to all the newbies just now finding B & B to do that, so I just do my best to replace them. Unfortunately, there are six, one of a kind zines that have not been replaced. 


As far as lost, I don’t think there have been any lost. I did have one person tell me they were lost and then sold one on ebay, but it actually found its way home. And don’t tell anyone, but I actually cried when I opened that box. I guess it was like a long lost child coming home. They are kind of like all my children.



Do you spend a lot of time at the post office, or do you have packages picked up at your door?


I have a super hubby who takes my boxes to the post office, but he uses it as an excuse to flirt with the ladies down there. They pretty much know him by sight. The post office right now is about a 14 mile round trip, but they are working on one about a mile away (but I have a feeling he’ll still go to Manvel, unless they have nice ladies to flirt with at the new one!).



What's the greatest distance you have sent zines? Do you ship overseas?


Overseas postage is just cost prohibitive, unfortunately. I do ship up to Canada, even with the documents that have to be filled out, but something that costs about $5 here in the states to mail, is about $20 to Canada.



Who most influenced and/or encouraged you in this direction? Did you have previous library experience that made CRLL a natural fit for you? We understand that you're an accountant. Does that mind set help with record-keeping for the library?


No one really influenced me in this direction except the previous libraries and the ladies that were kind enough to take the time to do this in the past. No previous library experience, but the bookkeeping background, not to mention the Libra organizing obsession that certainly makes a difference.


How do you cope with having a job and running the CRLL?


Since I have it down to once every two months for shipping, it isn’t too bad. It averages about an hour to check in, file, check out, type up packing slips, box up and record each box of zines. I usually pick a quiet weekend and just spend the day up at the office getting about 9 boxes ready, that’s my regular constant subscribers right now. And I have a forgiving boss when I’ve been to a convention or found a hidden treasure of zines and spend a day getting them all logged into the system.



A lot of us imagine CRLL as a room bursting at the seams with zines. Describe the CRLL Library space in your house. How does your husband cope with all the time you spend working with the library? With the space it must take in your home?


Only my personal zines are here at the house and right now, and there is so much “stuff” in front of the file cabinets that I couldn’t get to them if I had to. If someone asks for one of them, I send HIM into the “cavern”. lol  I’ll get a picture of the office with the filing cabinets for you to see. When the new building is finished, it will be so nice with everything together and more room.


And hubby has plenty of space for his hobbies. Army stuff all over the place.  Although I have to admit, we just fixed up the old trailer that my mom was living in before she passed away earlier this year and his stuff is making its way down there. Maybe I can get into my B & B room soon.



How do you work? Do you have set schedule for library work? Any self-imposed rules or limits? How much time each week do you usually spend on CRLL?


As mentioned before, a weekend every other month…now if you folks go crazy and I get a bunch of new borrowers, I might have to adjust that.



What was the most interesting response you've had to your work? What do you consider the greatest compliment you've received? Is there anything that really touched you or gave you a good laugh? What is your favorite thing to hear from someone borrowing from CRLL?


The most interesting responses seem to come from clients that come into the office and ask about the pictures on the wall or on top of the filing cabinets, and I show them the library. Some remember the series, some don’t. A few were fans and had no idea there is still a fandom out there.


I just like the thank you’s…someone to say they never thought they would be able to read all these zines…that type of thing.



Is there any advice you would offer to someone who might consider starting a lending library?


Not really, other than keep good records. And if you are young and serious, drop me a note. You all do realize that if, heaven forbid, anything happens to me, we are going to need a new librarian. (I try to make that statement with a smile, but it is a concern of mine. If you average $20 per zine, the library has over $20,000 worth of zines and another $1,000+ in file cabinets, and I wouldn’t even want to think about the shipping, considering the sheer volume.) But my plans are to be around for a long time.


Being a BATB fan:


In RL are you a closet "beastie" or do all your friends and family members know you're a fan? How do they feel about your Beauty and the Beast involvement? Do they worry about your sanity?


Definitely not in the closet. I have the first picture I bought at a convention, of Vincent, with Ron’s signature, over my desk and that lovely one of C & V signed by Ron and Linda right beside it. My sister thinks I am a bit crazy, but she has never discouraged any of my B & B activities. In fact, she helped me set up the library when we first got all those boxes in. Spent hours calling out titles and numbers so I could get started organizing.



May we assume that you might call yourself a BATB fan fic addict?


I most assuredly was. It seemed that I just couldn’t get enough. I would read from the time I got home until the wee hours of the morning for years. And when the library got here, I probably read everything in there. It was wonderful, now-a-days, there doesn’t seem to be as much free time as before. But I have been known to get a new zine in and read it before it goes into the library, usually when I am supposed to be doing something else. lol. 



Do you have a favorite zine or series?


I think my favorite zine would have to be “Love Bade Me Welcome”, but there are so many more “favorites”…anything by Patricia Kehoe or Sandy Shelton. And something everyone should read…even though, as far as I know, it was never done in a zine but it is out on the net to download…is Teri’s “Your Pain Is My Pain”. I remember printing that out and taking it with me to my first convention back in 1997 in Minneapolis and meeting her for the first time. I even got her to sign it. That might even have to be my favorite read of all time. It will spoil you.


But there are so many, that’s why I have the three file cabinets here at the house!



How did B&B affect your life?


One thing for sure…I look forward to the conventions every year. There are so many wonderful people out there. I had never gone any place or done anything like that. I hope they continue, even if in the form of “Excellent Adventures”.  What a vacation. 



Are you or have you been involved with any other fandoms in the same way?


Not in any way like B & B. I went to some of the old Star Trek conventions and collect things…Highlander, Forever Knight, StarGate. I watch the Creation Con website, but they never seem to get down this direction, and summers are pretty full with the B & B convention and then my husband has his Special Forces Assn. Convention in June… and Special Operations in Las Vegas in September (I figure my one for his two, not bad. lol).  But nothing to the same degree as B & B.



Do you want to say something else to the readers of this interview, about yourself, BATB, CRLL, The Crystal Rose, the fandom?


I’m here, I’m available, but the real heroes of the fandom are the writers and artists who REALLY keep the dream alive with new things. I’m kind of the keeper of the old ways. But new is what is going to make it continue. The ladies and gentlemen that give of their time to host the conventions, those are the folks that need a “hats off”. Thank you to all who do so much for Beauty and the Beast. Keep me on your mailing list…I don’t want to miss a thing.