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AFS Review: News

Open Folklore News and Portal Enhancements Announced as Project Enters its Second Year

Saturday, October 8, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jason Baird Jackson
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One year ago, on October 13, 2010, the American Folklore Society (AFS) and the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries launched the Open Folklore project and its associated web portal, located at www.openfolklore.org. A lot has been accomplished over the past year. Building on a six-month update released April 1, 2011, this announcement highlights the latest enhancements to the Open Folklore portal site and the most recent accomplishments of the project.

Aimed at fostering open access scholarship in the field of folklore studies, Open Folklore (OF) is a collaborative project led by the American Folklore Society (AFS) and the Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) Libraries. The Utah State University (USU) Libraries, of which the USU Press and USU Special Collections are key parts, is a Strategic Partner in the OF project.

Outstanding Collaboration Award

The OF partners and friends are pleased that the project was recognized at the summer 2011 meetings of the American Library Association with the "Outstanding Collaboration Award" presented by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS). In highlighting the project, ALCTS noted:

"In a noteworthy collaborative effort, the Open Folklore Project has fulfilled a scholarly need by establishing an online portal to provide open online access to many useful, but heretofore difficult to access, research materials in the field of folklore studies. Research materials include books, journals, "gray (unpublished) literature”, and web sites. The Open Folklore Project serves as a new model for collection development and scholarly communication for building discipline-based digital collections. Besides providing open access to research materials, the portal offers full-text searching and allows folklore scholars and enthusiasts to identify and select reliable scholarly content, differentiating it from popular, and sometimes, unreliable, online search engine content. This project actively works to encourage partnerships to collaboratively digitize materials, place them in open-access digital repositories, and share them with the folklore community. The Open Folklore Project can proudly serve as a model for collaborative projects in other scholarly disciplines."

AFS and IU Libraries are thrilled that the library community so generously and enthusiastically recognized early the goals and partnership strategies underpinning the OF effort.

The AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus (AFSET)

The AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus (AFSET) is now out of its beta-testing phase and is fully operational and usable as a controlled vocabulary tool for folklore studies and related ethnographic disciplines. The AFSET is live and accessible from a dedicated tab at the OF portal site. Now that it is available as a stable resource, the AFSET will also begin to figure more prominently in the publishing and database work of various projects affiliated with Open Folklore, including IUScholarWorks and The Journal of American Folklore—the flagship journal of the AFS. Tutorial resources to help scholars and project teams in their utilization of the AFSET will be developed in the year ahead.

Work on the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus was supported by a generous grant from the Scholarly Communications Program of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and early planning-grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The AFS developed the Thesaurus in cooperation with the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress and its incorporation into the OF portal was made possible through the combined efforts of the AFSET development team and the IU Digital Library Program. Thanks go to all who supported the project on its journey to official release.

New Scholarly Content from AFS and IUScholarWorks Repository

Over the past six months, a large body of new scholarly content has been incorporated into the Open Folklore universe. Most prominent in this additional scholarly material are publications issued over many decades by the AFS. Much new AFS material has been included in the IUScholarWorks Repository as part of the repository's AFS "community."

A key addition to the AFS community in IUScholarWorks Repository is a large corpus of syllabi developed for folklore and folklife courses at all levels by AFS members. This is a collection that will continue to grow in the years ahead, The Folklore Teaching Resources Collection presently includes 55 contributions from a diversity of folklore scholars. These resources are fully discoverable via Open Folklore Search. They are also browsable in the IUScholarWorks Repository.

A remarkable addition to the group of AFS materials being made available through the IUScholarWorks Repository are a nearly complete set of documents chronicling the Society's annual meetings going back to 1889. For recent years, these are the printed meeting programs but, for the early years, rich narrative accounts of the meetings that were originally published in The Journal of American Folklore are now freely available. These meetings-related materials—priceless resources for both the history of the field and for the pursuit of current research—are fully discoverable via Open Folklore Search. They are also browsable in the IUScholarWorks Repository.

A few small gaps in the continuous record remain, and the OF team is now working toward providing access to annual meeting program books for those missing from the 1950s and for the 1975-2003 period.

Among the other new AFS content additions are the backfiles of a key journal, Children's Folklore Review (1990-2006) and its predecessor the Children's Folklore Newsletter (1979-1990). This content is now fully accessible in the IUScholarWorks Repository and searchable at the issue level via Open Folklore Search.

Continued progress is being made toward the goal of making the back files of all of the AFS's section journals freely available online, either as part of the IUScholarWorks Repository or the HathiTrust Digital Library.

New Scholarly Content Available via Google Books

Some folklore journal titles, including others among the corpus of AFS section publications that are available within the HathiTrust Digital Library, are now also available via Google Books. The content newly accessible via Google Books includes Keystone Folklore, Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review, Folklore Historian, and some issues of Digest. Finding aids to assist users in accessing these journals within Google Books will be made available in IUScholarWorks and the Open Folklore Portal next week. Stay tuned for details.

New Scholarly Content Added to the OF Archive-It Collection

Since the project's last report on additional OF content in Archive-It, a number of additional folklore studies websites have been permanently archived and made accessible via this unique service. The newest additions to the OF Archive-It Collection are the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Culture and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Inclusion of The Quilt Index will be completed soon. Access to the archived websites can be gained from the Websites tab at the Open Folklore portal or directly within Archive-It.

A New OF Screencast

The second in a series of OF tutorial screencasts has been produced and released. Focusing on accessing open access journals in folklore and ethnology via the OF portal site, the video can be found embedded in the OF portal site (here), downloadable from Indiana Universities (here), and on the YouTube video service (here). Additional screencasts will be produced in the year ahead.

Portal Site Changes

Regular visitors to the portal site will also notice some small changes designed to improve functionality and organization, as well as to accommodate the new addition of the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus to the site.

JEF Joins the Friends of OF

In May, the Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics joined the community of OF friends. JEF, published by the Estonian National Museum, the Estonian Literary Museum and the University of Tartu is published using Open Journal Systems and is fully interoperable with Open Folklore Search, meaning that JEF content is fully discoverable via the OF portal and is harvested for discovery on an ongoing basis.

OF at the AFS Meetings

Release of these developments has been timed to fall right before the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society, which will take place at Indiana University Bloomington on October 12-15, 2011.

Indiana University librarians from the Open Folklore team will be leading two Learning With Librarians sessions at the AFS annual meetings in Bloomington: An Introduction to Copyright, Intellectual Property, and Open Folklore; and An Introduction to Digital Humanities and Online Information Resources.

At the meetings, we hope to have opportunities to talk with the folklore community about where the Open Folklore project is headed and to gather input on the work to be pursued in the year ahead. Year one was great. The year ahead will be even better!

Keeping in Touch

The OF Project Team, Strategic Partner, and OF Friends share the goals of keeping the community informed about work on OF and receiving continuous input and feedback. We will continue to use the OF news tools (Facebook, Twitter (@openfolklore), and especially the OF News section of the portal site) to share news about OF goals and next steps about every six months. Feedback and comments are always welcome by email, weblog post, Facebook comment, and good old fashioned mail (either the IUScholarWorks Project at the IUB Libraries or the AFS office).



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