Exciting developments in digital preservation and publication have positioned folklore studies to be a leader in scholarly communication in the digital era. Nevertheless, several access and discoverability problems in the field remain:
- Access to many resources for folklore scholarship and education (including print and digital books and journals) is restricted through subscription and copyright.
- Other resources (called “gray literature”) have never formally been published, and so cannot be found easily through conventional channels.
- A 2009 American Folklore Society survey of communications practices in folklore studies found that these “fugitive” materials were critically important to the research and educational efforts of many folklorists, but were difficult for them to access.
- An increasing amount of material is published on the Internet, but the Internet is notoriously ephemeral, making it difficult to reliably locate material after the passage of time. Generic Internet search engines like Google are not precise, especially in a popular field like folklore. Identifying reliable scholarly content in a sea of popular and sometimes unreliable search results poses a greater challenge in folklore studies than it does in other fields.
Since 2011, Open Folklore has responded to these access and preservation problems by:
- Working with rights holders to make books and journals, including those that have already been digitized, fully and openly available online
- Supporting the publication of journals in folklore on open-access platforms
- Digitizing older grey literature and providing digital preservation for “born digital” gray literature
- Selecting and (with their permission) digitally archiving websites of public and academic folklore programs
- Developing an online tool that allows you to search all of the above classes of material and that filters out unreliable sources
- Promoting open access to folklore studies scholarship in all formats