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Technology Lead: Open Folklore Project

2012-09-24
Open Folklore Logo

SLIS alumnus Garett Montanez (MIS/MLS'02) is the Lead Web Architect with the Digital User Experience Department, Indiana University Libraries. The Open Folklore Project is one of his assignments. In an email interview, we asked him to give details about this interesting project. His responses are included here. Garett's career highlights the creativity and new collaborative initiatives that are characterize today’s information professions.


From Garett Montanez -

  •About the Open Folklore Project:
Open Folklore is a collaborative project between the American Folklore Society, the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries, and the Indiana University Digital Library Program. The members of the Open Folklore team come from both the folklore community and the library community. The Open Folklore project was the recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Collaboration Citation Award from the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) division of the American Library Association.

The aim of the Open Folklore project is Open Access and preservation of Folklore research materials. The project attempts to make these materials open and free on the web instead of behind a pay wall. The materials include books, journals, and websites as well as unpublished material (gray literature). A goal of the project is to become largely financially self-sustaining rather than relying on grants to support its primary operation.

The Open Folklore project team is engaged in a number of activities to further the open access to and preservation of Folklore materials including: securing rights and permissions to make the materials available; putting the materials in a secure place, such as a repository, to assure the long term preservation of the resource; bringing the materials together in meaningful collections to make them accessible; and educating and advocating to others about the importance of preserving these materials and making these materials accessible;

  •Your Contributions:
I serve as the Technology Lead for the Open Folklore project. I worked with the other group members to create the Open Folklore portal. I created the design and implemented the technology behind the Open Folklore portal with Drupal, the Open Source Content Management System and Application Development Framework.

I used Drupal to create the website and an application that exists behind the scenes that harvests metadata from Open Access repositories and journals all over the world using the OAI-PMH protocol. The harvested records are then discoverable via an Apache Solr faceted search. This collection of folklore research materials is “curated” by the Open Folklore group and is expanded / added to by working with partners in the Folklore community. One of our project’s activities is to educate folklorists about how they can get their Folklore research materials in repositories and Open Access journals so that they can be added to the Open Folklore search.

  •Trends in Collection Building:
Open Folklore project is taking part in a number of new models in collection building. First, Open Folklore is involved with finding and collaborating with partners to build the collection of materials in repositories and helping partners develop Open Access journals. Second, Open Folklore has created the Open Folklore portal that builds a collection of free Open Access materials in the subject area of Folklore. Third, the project is preserving collections of websites that are important to the Folklore community using the Archive It tool. Finally, the project works to identify Folklore materials to be scanned by the Google Books project to be deposited in the Hathi Trust repository. The project identifies the materials and works to clear the rights and delivers the books to Google to be scanned.

  •A Favorite Aspect of this Project:
One of my favorite aspects of the project is working together on the diverse team that comprises Open Folklore. It has been a great experience being on a team of folklorists, librarians, and technology people, each bringing his own knowledge, skills, and expertise to the project. Besides myself, the Open Folklore team includes two prominent members of the Folklore community, who were instrumental to the project’s conception, launch, and continued success: Tim Lloyd – Folklorist and Executive Director of the American Folklore Society and Co-Principal Investigator for the project; and Jason Baird Jackson – a prominent member of the Folklore community and the Chair of the AFS Communications in Folklore Working Group.

From the library community, the project includes: Julie Bobay - Associate Dean for Collection Development and Scholarly Communications at Indiana University Libraries - Bloomington, who serves as Co-Principal Investigator with Tim Lloyd and brings her knowledge of research and collection building to the project; Moira Marsh – Librarian, Anthropology, Sociology, Folklore, and Social Work, a librarian and folklorist, brings her knowledge of the folklore community and its materials and her knowledge of the Archive It Web archiving tool; Jennifer Laherty, the Digital Publishing Librarian, who brings a knowledge of Institutional Repositories their policies; and Sherri Michaels, the copyright librarian who brings her knowledge of copyright law. From the Digital Library Program the project includes the developer of the American Folklore Society’s Ethnographic Thesaurus.

  •Tips for Students:
One thing I would suggest is for students to become aware of Institutional Repositories and the issues around Open Access because they are so important to the future of research and librarianship. Another tip I might suggest is to start thinking now about partnerships and collaboration. When you are imagining about how work life will be after library school, think about how libraries can partner and collaborate with other groups. These are the best opportunities to fulfill the goals of the libraries, expand services, and find mutually beneficial situations.

Posted September 24, 2012