• Open Folklore Project Wins Major Library Award
    Posted on Thu, 01/27/2011 - 12:33pm

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Open Folklore project, a collaborative effort between the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries and the American Folklore Society, is the recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Collaboration Citation. The honor comes from the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services within the American Library Association.

    The award recognizes and encourages collaborative problem-solving efforts in the areas of acquisition, access, management, preservation or archiving of library materials, as well as a demonstrated benefit from actions, services or products that improve and assist with the management of library collections.

    The citation will be presented at the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services Awards Ceremony at the Annual Conference in June 2011.

    Open Folklore debuted in October 2010 to provide open online access to many useful -- but heretofore difficult to access -- research materials in the field of folklore studies, including books, journals, "gray literature" (unpublished) and websites.

    "Ultimately, Open Folklore will become a multifaceted resource, combining digitization and digital preservation of data, publications, educational materials and scholarship in folklore; promoting open access to these materials; and providing an online search tool to enhance discoverability of relevant, reliable resources for folklore studies," said Kurt Dewhurst, president of the American Folklore Society.

    Primarily, Open Folklore was developed so quickly and productively because of the close match between the collection development and scholarly communications priorities of the IU Libraries and the American Folklore Society, Dewhurst said.

    "We also have been working to develop the partnership behind Open Folklore," he said. "Since the portal primarily points to resources elsewhere and contains little content of its own, it has been critical for IU Libraries and AFS to become active in encouraging other partners in our field . . . to deposit more materials online and in open access and to develop recommended shared practices for doing so; to collaboratively digitize hard-copy materials; and, in some cases, to join with us as more engaged planning partners."

    Barbara Fister of the Inside Higher Ed blog Library Babel Fish, said the project is drawing "a terrific map for societies unsure of how to proceed" with open access.

    "Partnering with Indiana University libraries, the American Folklore Society is identifying where their literature is and how much of it is accessible, bringing attention to existing and potential open access journals, asking rights holders if material can be set free, digitizing gray literature so it will be preserved . . . these folks are sharp," Fister said. "And they're doing what scholarly societies should do: promoting the field and sharing its collective knowledge for the greater good."

    "As it grows, Open Folklore will provide a vehicle -- guided by scholars -- for libraries to re-envision our traditional library services centered on collections -- selection, acquisition, describing, curating and providing access to a wide range of materials, published or not," said Brenda Johson, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries. "The progress of this experiment will, in a very real way, illuminate the path academic libraries must take in supporting collection development in the digital age."

    John Wilkin, executive director of HathiTrust Digital Library, believes Open Folklore is "extraordinary in its vision and its promise."

    "As a librarian deeply involved in building digital collections of the future, I view Open Folklore as a stunning example of the value of, and opportunities presented by, new developments in scholarly communication," Wilkin said. "I say this from several perspectives: as the Executive Director of HathiTrust, the Associate University Librarian for Library Information Technology at the University of Michigan Library and as a longtime member of the digital library community. Open Folklore could only have happened through the knowledge, insight, commitment and passion of its collaborators in different spheres of the scholarly communication environment -- libraries, scholars and their scholarly societies."

    Wilkin said Open Folklore is a new way of looking and doing things, and as such can be difficult to describe, adding that it is simultaneously similar to and quite different from any other initiative he knows of.
    "Encompassing advocacy, education, access, collection development, description, searching and many other familiar enterprises in our community, it combines them in new and innovative ways," he said. "Open Folklore is an example of the spectacular things that can be achieved together but which are entirely impossible alone."


    From the Indiana University Press release available here.

  • Ethnobotany Research and Applications + Open Folklore
    Posted on Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:29pm

    The editors of Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ERA) and the Open Folklore project are pleased to announce that work published in ERA is now fully discoverable via the OF Search tool on the Open Folklore portal site (http://openfolklore.org/). Among fully searchable titles, ERA joins a growing group of open access journals of interests to folklorists, including Indian Folklife, New Directions in Folklore, and the Indian Folklore Research Journal. Like many of these titles, ERA is published using Open Journal Systems, a vital open source software package for open access journal publishing that incorporates the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) standards upon which OF Search relies for easy metadata harvesting.

    Describing the inclusion of ERA in the Open Folklore portal, OF project team member Jason Jackson noted that "Folklorists in the United States and around the world have long maintained an interest in vernacular uses of plants as manifest in their studies of both folk medicine and of material culture. Including such an important journal from the interdisciplinary field of ethnobotany is another important development for the Open Folklore project and for the field of folklore studies."

    ERA Editor in Chief Will McClatchey commented:  "The editors at ERA are very happy to be linked with The Open Folklore Project since we share so many common objectives. Within ERA, readers will find articles that almost exclusively draw upon primary interviews with people and emphasize the value of knowledge that is being used by people for survival. Readers are sometimes surprised to find articles about how people are interacting with plants, animals and ecosystems within modern cities as well as in rural settings. Some ERA authors primarily focus on folklore and ERA may represent a rare venture into the "botanical world". We look forward to an exciting bilateral collaboration with The Open Folklore project as ERA opens a portal link to encourage our readers to explore the world of folklore." 

    More information on ERA is available on the journal's website:

  • Good News on the OF Journal Front
    Posted on Thu, 12/02/2010 - 12:27pm

    While it does not (yet) look different to users, the Open Folklore portal's "Journals" page works differently behind the scenes and this new functionality will make possible new developments in the future. The first version of the journals page was simply a handmade webpage listing a wide range of open access journals in folklore studies and providing links through which these publications could be accessed.  This tabular data has now been incorporated into a backend database.  The database now feeds its content to the journals page and populates the tables that can still be found there.

    What does this difference mean? From a day to day point of view, it means that when a new title is added to the site, this can be done easily on the project team's end through a simple database form. Looking ahead, this change will also allow the journals page to grow and change in fruitful ways. In the future, it might take the form not of a single page of tables but instead become a user searchable utility or the data could be remixed by the user to highlight different aspects of the journal system in folklore studies.  The data is also now available to be used on other pages and in other parts of the site as the larger Open Folklore effort grows and changes in response to user needs and technological opportunity.

    . . .

    Late breaking news! The new journal database structure described above can already do work for you. Here's how.  At the top and the bottom of the journals page, there is now an RSS feed icon (similar to, but different from the one associated with OF News). Use this RSS feed to subscribe to the new "OF Journals" feed. What does that do for you? It tells you when a new gold open access journal has been added to the OF portal. It is essence is an alerting system by which you can learn about new open access journals and about established and legacy journals that become open access. The journal list grows and you know about it. Its a steady stream of great news from the field of folklore studies.  How great is that?

    Try it out and tell us what you think.

    While we are basking in good journal news, we can report that Material Culture Review (formerly Material History Review) and the Journal of Language and Popular Culture in Africa are two more open access journals added to the portal list this week. Collective appreciation goes to the editors and authors who have made these titles possible and for everyone who has worked to make them freely available online.

    (Learn about RSS feeds by consulting RSS in Plain English at http://www.commoncraft.com/rss_plain_english )