Ky. folklife collections merge at WKU

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) -- The Kentucky Folklife Program has been folded into Western Kentucky University, almost doubling the school's archived collections.

Brent Bjorkman, director of the Kentucky Folklife Program, told the Daily News (http://bit.ly/Z0pGej) that the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort decided it no longer wanted to offer the folklife program and so it joined WKU's Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology.

WKU has had a folk studies program and folklife archives for four decades and had worked with the state program in the past.

"(The move) was really a no-brainer," Bjorkman said.

Bjorkman said the Kentucky Folklife Program's archives were moved last week from Frankfort to WKU's Kentucky Museum where they are being housed in the Folklife Archives.

"Having two major collections like this come together, it's going to add visibility to the already nationally recognized program," Bjorkman said.

Jonathan Jeffrey, coordinator of the WKU Folklife Archives, said the merger not only nearly doubles the WKU Folklife Archives to include more than 150 collections, it also makes the scope of the university's collections broader because the Kentucky Folklife Program archives has material from around the state instead of just regionally as WKU's archives do.

He said that means a variety of topics will be added to Western's collection, including details about folklife on the Ohio River and interviews with Kentucky state park workers.

Bjorkman said he will continue under the umbrella of the university to document the culture in Kentucky, which often includes interviewing people to find out how traditions began and why they are important.

"Documenting folklore is part of getting to know the culture around you ... it's a marker of who we are as Kentuckians," Bjorkman said.

The information will be a resource to a multitude of students from different disciplines.

"It gives them the opportunity to see professionally done projects," Jeffrey said.

He said the collection was already catalogued, so it shouldn't take long to input the material on the Kentucky Museum's online database.