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What can the Open Folklore project help me do now? [3] (The Community Arts Network Edition)

This post is the third in a series [1] [2] discussing what the efforts bundled as the Open Folklore project can do for the community now, before the portal site that will live at http://www.openfolklore.org/ is finalized.

A part of the Open Folklore effort that has not been discussed here previously concerns the plan to durably archive content-rich websites of relevance to scholars and practitioners in the field of folklore studies. Recently a need arose to put these plans to a quick test. The Community Arts Network (CAN), a not-for-profit service organization that had built up a large and widely used website found itself needing to cease operation of its elaborate site. On August 31, Debora Kodish of the Philadelphia Folklore Project contacted the Open Folklore team at Indiana about the possibility that the project might be able to assist in the preservation of the CAN assets.  Discussions and investigations quickly followed and the IU Libraries decided to pursue archiving the site. This work was complete before the time of the scheduled shut down on Labor Day.  It all worked and now we can see what a website archived in the manner that we anticipate using looks and feels like.  The words of appreciation that have been offered from the community arts and public folklore communities have been most appreciated and are a major source of encouragement for what we are trying to get going with Open Folklore.

To help explicate a bit further, this is a re-posting of an announcement being circulated by the Community Arts Network (CAN). It was crafted with input from the librarians at Indiana who are central to the current early-phase work on the Open Folklore project. Thanks go to everyone who has been involved in these efforts.  (See the CAN Facebook page for additional discussion.)

The Community Arts Network (CAN), Indiana University Bloomington Libraries, and the American Folklore Society are pleased to announce that the CAN Web site has been archived as part of the Open Folklore project (http://www.openfolklore.org/). Open Folklore is intended to be an online portal to open-access digital folklore content and plans to launch a prototype in October at the American Folklore Society meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

After CAN announced it would be forced to immediately shut down its Web site due to lack of funds, the IU Bloomington Libraries offered to capture the CAN Web site using Archive-It, a subscription service from the Internet Archive that allows institutions to build and preserve collections of born-digital content. The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded in 1996 to build an “Internet library” with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to collections that exist in digital format. Because CAN is a content-rich Web site that is of great interest to folklorists, the IU Bloomington Libraries made use of their subscription to Archive-It to preserve the site without charge.

The archived CAN is static, but is fully text searchable, though some external links and some internal scripted functions may no longer work. It is, however, a unique and permanent record of the site as it existed at the time. Users may visit the archived site at http://wayback.archive-it.org/2077/20100906194747/http://www.communityarts.net/. The full text of the site may be searched at the Archive-It home site, http://www.archiveit.org/.

Art in the Public Interest, CAN’s non-profit, will continue to seek funding to develop the CAN materials into a sophisticated archive library.

Debora Kodish, founder of the Philadelphia Folklore Project first suggested that Open Folklore might have a role to play in preserving CAN, and this suggestion was enthusiastically and swiftly adopted. IU Bloomington Libraries Dean Brenda Johnson described this sequence of events as an excellent proof of concept for Open Folklore and for the value of collaboration between a research library and the scholarly community it serves. “This is a sterling example of why digital preservation efforts are so important. Without the active collaboration of the folklore community, and without IUB Libraries participation in Archive-It, a unique and valuable online resource would have vanished.”

I invite you to check out the archived CAN site.

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