Is No News, Good News? At Open Folklore, the Answer is Yes!

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 2:01pm -- jbj

The news page at the Open Folklore portal has been quiet. Is that a bad sign for the project and for open access in folklore studies? No, it is good news and here is the backstory.

 

Since the update of the Open Folklore portal site, the OF team has been focused on the project's longer term efforts. This noisy behind-the-scenes work has meant that we have been more quiet in public. But what is going on back stage? The OF team works to be open about the project, of course, so here are some updates.

 

Last May, in anticipation of an external assessment of the project, the OF team prepared a a background document titled "Open Folklore Project: Background Briefing for Consultants." You can now read this report yourself. Find it in IUScholarWorks Repository here:

 

Generous and talented colleagues Miriam Posner (UCLA, @miriamkp), Nancy Sims (U Minnesota, @CopyrightLibn), and Ethan Watrall (Michigan State U, @captain_primate) visited Bloomington for meetings with the Open Folklore team during July 2013. On the basis of their studies of the project, they authored the report "Open Folklore: Maintaining Momentum, Assuring a Future." It too is now accessible in the IUScholarWorks Repository. Find it here:

 

Because of travel problems, a fourth project consultant--Perry Willett (California Digital Library, @cpwillett)--was unable to reach Bloomington for the assessment meetings in June. He generously undertook an independent review of the project and its portal site. His report is also now available in the IUScholarWorks Repository. Find it here.

 

Since accepting these thoughtful and helpful reports, the project team has been working to implement and build upon the recommendations made by the consultants. Team efforts in pursuit of these project enhancements--both organizational and technical--accounts in part for our quietness.

 

In sync with these efforts, Open Folklore co-project principal investigators Julie Bobay and Timothy Lloyd have been participating in a series of gatherings and workshops on "sustainable scholarship" organized by Ithaka S&R--a research organization serving libraries, scholarly societies, academic publishers, and others interested in scholarly communication.

 

Plans for the future of Open Folklore are being developed in the context of two additional efforts. One of these is the National Folklore Archives Initiative. This connected and parallel project includes AFS and many partner organizations in the field. Building upon the work of its initial NEH funded phase, the NFAI is--like Open Folklore--planning its next steps. In early February, OF and NFAI project participants met together in Bloomington to coordinate joint work in partnership with the IU Libraries, which hosted the meetings.

 

In addition to NFAI, Open Folklore is in close dialogue with the Office of Scholarly Publishing at Indiana University. The OSP is a new campus unit that brings together the IU Press and the open access scholarly communications work of the IU Libraries. It thus holds much relevance for both Open Folklore and the field of folklore studies. Like OF and NAFAI, the Office of Scholarly Publishing, and the IU Press within it, are making ambitious plans for the future.

 

On top of all of this, Indiana University Bloomington is pursuing a number of key plans of relevance to Open Folklore. In addition to a new campus strategic plan, Indiana University has announced an ambitious program of digitization for all of its time-based media holdings as well as a new planning effort for the digitization of other campus holding.. As these include the full holdings of the Archives of Traditional Music and other collections of relevance to folklorists and local communities around the world, this is a big deal with immediate relevance to OF.

 

The takeaway is hopefully clear. A quiet news page is a consequence of a lot of work going on behind the scenes. If we stay quiet for a while longer, that is only because we are tackling some big and worthy items on the OF to do list.