For the Open Folklore project, gray literature includes several categories of products of folklorists’ study and teaching, including but not limited to:
- Abstracts of conference presentations and reports of conference discussions
- Educational materials created by academic and public folklore programs, including exhibition catalogs or interpretive materials from performance events
- Syllabi and teaching materials
- White papers and other public policy-related materials
- Scholarly works-in-progress
Conference presentation abstracts provide a view of the current state of scholarship and public practice at the time, whether decades ago or today. They also serve as a documentation of work-in-progress, which is customarily presented orally at conferences before it sees print.
Public programs in folklore are acutely interested in the local traditions of the areas they serve—neighborhood, local, state, regional, or national—and the educational materials that they produce in many media are often the only available resources that document and interpret those traditions. Moreover, they are for the most part produced for public audiences rather than for specialists, so they have the same sort of value for young public folklorists as syllabi and classroom materials do for their peers in the academy.
A young folklorist planning to teach her first class in the field has much to gain from the opportunity to review the widest possible set of teaching approaches and class materials from those who have gone before her, and even experienced teachers can learn from the pedagogy of their peers.
Folklorists have long attended to the impact on traditional artists and communities of public policy in many areas, among them agriculture, arts and culture, education, the environment, health and medicine, immigration, intellectual property, land use and development, and nutrition. Today they are also becoming directly involved in those public policy worlds, often working in partnership with traditional communities. The reports, studies, white papers, and other documents that they are producing as part of this work incorporate a great deal of local knowledge that can be useful to policymakers, and comprise valuable evidence of the applied dimensions of our field.
Current works-in-progress provide a snapshot of the particular concerns and challenges that folklorists are facing today as they articulate what they have learned, and readers’ comments upon such works can be especially helpful to authors as they gain intellectual control over their efforts and move toward publication.
We look forward to including these and other forms of gray literature in Open Folklore and we welcome recommendations from the field about other classes of useful materials that we can help make available.
To begin making such materials more durably available and more easily discoverable, the project partners have begun placing documents of value into the IUScholarWorks Repository. The contents of these collections can be discovered by browsing or through the search functionality provided here in the Open Folklore portal site.
- American Folklore Society: A collection of books, reports, and journal indexes published by the American Folklore Society are available in the IUScholarWorks Repository and can be searched via Open Folklore.
- The Fund For Folk Culture: A collection of working papers, meeting summaries, and monographs published by The Fund For Folk Culture are available in the IUScholarWorks Repository and can be searched via Open Folklore.