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AFS and Indiana University Libraries Receive National Award for Open Folklore

Thursday, January 27, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Timothy Lloyd
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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 ALA 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to access -- research materials in the field of folklore studies, including books, journals, "gray literature” (unpublished) and web sites.

"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 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 the 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. Open Folklore is an example of the spectacular things that can be achieved together but which are entirely impossible alone.”

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