We’re accustomed to hearing about “the graying of fandom,” Apparently Sweden’s UFO enthusiasts face the same problem. A recent Swedish-language article asked what is going to happen to the world’s largest UFO archive? (Hampus Eckerman kindly translated the piece into English.) Here is an excerpt.
…The world’s largest UFO archive can be found in Norrköping. But the enthusiasts are getting older and older. Who will take over all handwritten saucer sightings, shaky video footage and previously classified documents? …
20,000 Swedish observations
The history of the archive began in 1973 when Anders Liljegren and his two ufo obsessed librarian friends Kjell Jonsson and Håkan Blomqvist decided to start collecting UFO literature. At first, the initiative was mainly a way to get their own opportunity to immerse themselves in the subject. The books they got their hands on they made available for borrowing over mail for people around Sweden. After a year they received a large donation of 400 books from a famous ufologist. And since then it has just rolled on. Over the years, the focus has broadened. In AFU [Archives for the Unexplained], there is beside the UFO literature, also books on a variety of other paranormal phenomena.
– That is why we are planning to change the name, says Anders Liljegren, smiling.
Archives and libraries are scattered in twelve cellars in the Norrköping district Ljura. The collections has n addition to several meters of shelved audio and video tapes more than 25,600 book titles, 70 000 Journals and 250 000 digitized press clippings from around the world. But not only that. There are also some 20 000 reports made in connection with the Swedish UFO sightings, as well as similar national report archives from Denmark, England and Spain. Anders Liljegren takes out a white folder from one of the cluttered bookshelves and fish up a report authored by a woman who had seen a gray, spinning, discus-shaped object that hovered above her car. Anders Liljegrens colleague Johan Gustavsson, who sits rapt in front of a computer, is employed as a researcher at the AFU and examines, on behalf of the national organization UFO Sweden, all of the approximately 250 UFO sightings coming in each year….
…We walk to another room across the courtyard, where among other things, UFO Sweden’s association and personal archives are kept. The shelves are cluttered and it smells heavily of paper and dust. There are also parts of journal collections, sorted by country. We sit squatting and checking out a colorful fanzine with UFO sightings from the then Rhodesia. When AFU has more than three copies of the same book or magazine, it happens that Anders Liljegren sellis the titles on Ebay as a way to get money into the business. The Foundation has also started the second-hand bookshop AFU Shop with customers from all over the world.
– About a year ago I sold stenciled UFO booklets from Tasmania that I received several hundred dollars apiece for, he says.
…DN-journalist [Translator’s note: Sweden’s largest newspaper Dagens Nyheter] Clas Svahn, vice chairman of the national organization UFO Sweden, is the one who today leads all collection of materials to the archive. Anders Liljegren has retired but remains as a foreman on a volunteer basis. During his 43 years on the AFU, he has been involved in a number of memorable moments. An experience that will never fade was when he and his colleague Håkan Blomqvist at the end of the 80’s drove in panic to Bromma [translaters note: Suburb of Stockholm] to retrieve the famous ufologist Gösta Rehn’s private correspondence.
– We managed to save 32 binders that lay buried under potties and broken portfolios in a garbage room. We were there just before garbage collectors came, says Anders Liljegren.
What has kept you going during all these years?
– I like to build things up and do not really care about what the UFO phenomenon may have as explanations. This work also invites surprises every day.
Hand on your heart. Do you think that there are civilizations in other solar systems which sometimes makes detours to greet us?
– It is unlikely, but not impossible. If someone could explain all the observations based on scientific arguments, I would buy it. AFU Foundation does not run this archive based on some believed aspects.
What is the future of the AFU?
– We of course want everything to be preserved for posterity. But we are getting older and older. A multi-million donation would have been fine now. We would have had a room where we could gather everything under one roof. We also need volunteers with knowledge of the paranormal phenomena that can continue to work with the archives and library.
We bid farewell to the UFO-gang, leaving the fluorescent bleach archive. The skewed evening sun reflected in rental buildings windows. The propeller plane is gone. In the sky, nothing can be seen. Or what is that?