Open Folklore Goes to Nashville
Many folklorists in the United States have just returned from the annual meetings of the American Folklore Society, which were held in Nashville, Tennessee. The meetings were intellectually rich and diverse and they were characterized by a sizable quantity of good news for the field. We learned about growing membership numbers, academic program enlargement, a new AFS website, numerous national projects and strengthened international collaborations. Quite inspiring! While it seemed like I was in business meetings during every waking hour, everyone else seemed to have a healthy mix of work and play. A good time seemed to be had by almost all. The few papers and presentations that I got to hear and see were uniformly excellent.
One of the things that I was involved with was the launch of the Open Folklore portal site: www.openfolklore.org
While we spoke of launching the site at the AFS board meeting on Wednesday morning, we actually flipped the switch (so to speak) on Tuesday afternoon. We did this just in case there were technical problems to resolve, but everything worked great and by the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday the site was live. Wednesday morning, Indiana University issued a press release announcing the launch. You can find it at http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/15922.html
Wednesday morning, Moria Smith and Julie Bobay (both fellow Open Folklore project team members from Indiana University Bloomington Libraries) gave an overview of the OF project and the OF portal site to the AFS Executive Board (of which I am a member). That went very well, I think. In the afternoon, the gave a similar overview to the leaders of academic and public sector folklore programs. While few had a chance, by this point, to actually use the site, there was uniform enthusiasm for its purpose and promise. The project was mentioned by AFS President Kurt Dewhurst during the conference’s opening ceremonies Wednesday night. On Thursday at noon, the OF team had a very fruitful meeting with representatives of Utah State University Libraries (including the Utah State University Press and USU Special Collections) and the Utah State folklore program. Utah State is the Open Folklore project’s first strategic partner. On Thursday afternoon I presented a brief overview of OF in a panel of which I was a part and Moria Smith and I demonstrated the site to interested visitors to an Open Folklore table near the book room. Thanks go to all of these interlocutors and audiences.
Open Folklore’s Facebook presence continued to get the “like” treatment from supporters and we reached and surpassed our goal of 250 Facebook supporters during the meeting. Folklorists aren’t very big on Twitter yet, but the ranks of Open Folklore’s Twitter followers also grew during the meetings. It was a tough week to launch in a sense because it was a week prior to Open Access Week and the AFS meetings co-occurred with the Association of Research Libraries meeting and the Educause meeting. Both of these meetings are of special relevance to audiences sympathetic to the goals of the Open Folklore project.
The first review of the Open Folklore site came in during the meetings. On his weblog Archivology, Creighton Barrett offered a very careful study of the architecture and functionality of the Open Folklore portal, one that extended his earlier pre-launch discussions. The Open Folklore team is very appreciative of the careful attention that he has given the project. The portal site was also highlighted in an October 14 Library Journal essay by Barbara Fister. In addition, the portal site has also gotten a good bit of link love, for which we are also thankful.
Thanks go to everyone who has tried the site out, put it to actual use, or suggested either additional content for liberation or improvements to the portal itself. We look forward to following up on the suggestions that many made during our time in Nashville. Thanks to all who spoke up so enthusiastically about the project and its potential. The project team is certainly more enthusiastic than ever.
Happy Open Access week!