About Open Folklore

Open Folklore

Open Folklore is a scholarly resource devoted to increasing the number and variety of useful resources, published and unpublished, available for the field of folklore studies and the communities with which folklore scholars partner.

Open Folklore Project Team

Julie Bobay
Co-Principal Investigator

Associate Dean for Collection Development and Scholarly Communications, Indiana University Bloomington Libraries

(812) 855-7743
Timothy Lloyd
Co-Principal Investigator

Executive Director, American Folklore Society

(614) 292-3375
Jason Baird Jackson
Outreach Lead

Director of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Associate Professor of Folklore Indiana University, Indiana University Bloomington

(812) 856-1868
Moira Marsh
Collections Lead

Librarian, Anthropology, Sociology, Folklore, and Social Work, Indiana University Bloomington Libraries

(812) 855-1550
Jennifer Laherty
Communications Lead

Digital Publishing Librarian and Head of IUScholarWorks, Indiana University Bloomington Libraries

(812) 855-5609
Garett Montanez
Technology Lead

Lead Web Architect, Indiana University Bloomington Libraries

(812) 856-4668
Our hope and goal is to build this structure in response to input and engagement from the folklore studies community.

What is Folklore?

Since its formation in the early 19th century, the field of folklore studies has pioneered an inclusive view of culture and creativity in communities by examining expressive life across boundaries of time and distance. Folklorists have promoted the idea that traditional cultural expressions--music, stories, handmade objects, custom, belief, and ritual, to name just a few--serve as windows into the worldviews, identities, values, and quality of life of people and communities. Today, the folklore studies field and its core concepts--including art, context, folk, genre, group, identity, performance, text, and tradition--continue to make unique and meaningful contributions to scholarship and understanding in the humanities and social sciences. Folklorists work to understand and communicate knowledge about community-based creativity in a global economy, cultural communication within and across religious and ethnic divides, and to advance mutual understanding and respect within the world’s diverse cultural commons. Moreover, folklore contributes unique intellectual insights to the creation, analysis, and evaluation not just of knowledge, but also of public policy. A listening discipline that uses locally based qualitative research to understand culture and community through expressive life, folklore is more relevant to the academy and to public education today than at any time in its history.

About Open Folklore

While exciting recent developments in digital preservation and publication have positioned folklore studies to be a leader in scholarly communication in the digital era, several persistent access and discoverability problems in the field remain:

Access to some resources for folklore scholarship and education (including hard-copy and digitized books and journals) is restricted through subscription and copyright.

Other resources have never formally been published, and so cannot be found easily through conventional channels: white papers and policy materials; conference programs, presentations, and discussions; works-in-progress; syllabi, teaching materials, and other forms of gray literature; educational materials (such as exhibition catalogs or interpretive materials from performance events) created by public folklore programs, the publications of American Folklore Society interest groups and sections, and many newsletters.

A 2009 American Folklore Society survey of communications practices in folklore studies, significant numbers of respondents indicated that these categories of “fugitive” materials were critically important to their research and educational efforts, but were difficult for them to access.

An increasing amount of this material is published on the Internet, but the Internet is notoriously ephemeral and lacks dependable preservation, 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, online content poses a greater challenge for those interested in folklore topics than it does in other areas of scholarship.

Open Folklore builds on the new developments in digital circulation of folklore materials to respond to these troubling access and preservation problems. We will work with rights holders to make books and journals, including those that have already been digitized, fully and openly available online. We will support the publication of existing and new journals in folklore with an open-access publishing platform. We will digitize older grey literature, and educational materials produced by public folklore programs, and will provide digital preservation for such resources and publications that are “born digital.” We will select and digitally archive websites of public and academic folklore programs (with their permission). We will provide an online tool that will offer searching of all of the above classes of material while filtering out unreliable sources.

Ultimately, Open Folklore will become a multi-faceted 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.


Open Folklore is a collaboration of the American Folklore Society and the Indiana University Libraries. At the moment, a project team from these organizations are responsible for developing and supporting the site. We hope that this collaboration will extend far beyond these organizations, and plan to evolve our governance and decision-making structures as Open Folklore grows.

Strategic Partners
Open Folklore strategic partners are organizations with content that is critically important to folklore scholarship, whose values and goals are closely aligned with Open Folklore’s, and who are committed to devoting resources to achieve shared goals. Open Folklore will highlight these organizations' content, acknowledge their importance to the success of the project, and actively pursue new forms of collaboration with them.

The Open Folklore Project Team has invited the Utah State University Libraries to join us as our first Strategic Partner. Utah State University has been a leader in folklore scholarship, instruction, and collection building for over 40 years, offering an undergraduate minor and graduate degrees specializing in public and academic folklore. The USU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives is home to the American Folklore Society Papers and the Fife Folklore Archives, one of the largest repositories of American folklore in the United States. The Fife Folklore Archives boasts the renowned Fife American and Mormon collections, the flourishing Folklore Student Collection, a robust oral history program, the G. Malcolm Laws Ballad Collection and many others. Also within the USU Libraries is the USU Press, publishing cutting-edge folklore studies for over thirty years. Many of these collections, including all the Press books, are freely available to researchers in digital form, with records for new items and collections from the USU Libraries continually added to Open Folklore.

Friends of Open Folklore
Central to the success of Open Folklore are those publishers, repositories, and organizations that are actively increasing the range of openly available scholarly resources in folklore studies. A large number of organizations and rights holders have generously contributed to the building of the Open Folklore portal and cultivating an open access scholarly communications system in folklore studies; so many, in fact, that we cannot list them all here. The full range of OF content contributors can be found by consulting the Havested Content page. The Journals, Books, Websites, and Grey Literature pages also identify organizations producing open access folklore scholarship more generally.

Some organizations, however, have taken special and conscious steps to partner with the Open Folklore Project, and we would like to explicitly recognize them as Friends of Open Folklore. These organizations’ goals and values align with the project, they are actively pursuing partnerships with the Open Folklore project, and in making their scholarly materials accessible, have made the conscious choice to use interoperable systems that facilitate their inclusion in the Open Folklore search tool.

Friends of Open Folklore are:

Journals, repositories, and projects wishing to collaborate formally with the Open Folklore project are directed to the About Us and the Contact pages.

Additional Information

Technology and Standards Framework:
Open Folklore Site
Drupal-the open source content management system
The eXtensible Catalog (XC) Drupal Toolkit's OAI harvester-to harvest metadata using the Open Archives Initiative-Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH)
Bibliography (Biblio) Module-to store records in Drupal
Apache Solr-a faceted search index

Content Sources:
DSpace repositories (included in search)
DigitalCommons repositories (included in search)
Open Journal Systems journals (included in search)
Archive-It/Internet Archive
HathiTrust Digital Library