Folkstreams.net awarded Institute of Museum and Library Services grant

Release date: 
October 5, 2006

folkstreams.net, a Web site produced jointly by three University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill organizations and Folkstreams, Inc., has been awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to continue its mission of archiving, digitizing and streaming documentary films about American folk and root culture.

A portion of the new $129,424 grant will allow the site to expand its collection of documentaries by 35 films. Folkstreams.net will use the remainder of the grant to produce original material relating to the Folkstreams project, including:

•  a guide to best practices in video digitization;

•  video clips for the site's “Video Aids for Film Preservation” section; and

•  portals, guides and outreach materials for senior citizens and teachers.

“We labor from grant to grant,” said Tom Davenport, Folkstreams project director and independent filmmaker. “This award will help us achieve critical mass. We are already receiving about 500 requests a day for video streams. We expect more as the site grows.”

UNC's School of Information and Library Science (SILS), Southern Folklife Collection, ibiblio.org and Folkstreams, Inc., launched folkstreams.net in 2000 as a national preserve of hard-to-find documentaries that give voice to diverse American groups. A valuable feature of the Web site is that it streams supporting materials along with a documentary. These include the filmmaker's commentary and essays by scholars on the persons, cultures, activities, and aesthetic traditions documented in the films, additional sound recordings and photographs, suggested readings and links to related Web sites. Users can view all of the site's archived films and related materials free of charge.

“Putting these old films up on the Net is an old man's dream,” Davenport said. “The material that we spent our youth recording and the films that we made back then seem relevant again. We are hopeful that these old materials may stimulate new ideas, music, and films.”

folkstreams.net is hosted by ibiblio.org, a free public library of digital material that provides server space and digital streams. UNC's Southern Folklife Collection maintains the film and tape archives.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 15,000 museums. Its mission is to grow and sustain a “Nation of Learners” because life-long learning is essential to a democratic society and individual success. Through its grant making, convenings, research and publications, the Institute empowers museums and libraries nationwide to provide leadership and services to enhance learning in families and communities, sustain cultural heritage, build twenty-first-century skills, and increase civic participation. To learn more about the Institute, please visit: http://www.imls.gov