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Friday, March 17, 2023

Aung - How Friendship Began Among the Birds - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This summer many libraries will use the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme of "All Together Now."  When thinking about programs, one librarian's response gave me an idea on how to fit it into storytelling.  She asked, "What do we do after Friendship Bracelets?!?"  Another librarian in a small city said they were going to focus on the world, including international stories.  

This is when I came up with Friendship Stew

It is indeed "free from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity" as the CSLP theme proposes and will have a stewpot filled with the names of stories about friendship from all over the world.  Additionally all attendees will have their name in a saucepan to be able to draw out the next story name.  The topic of friendship must cover both the good and the bad examples -- what child hasn't had a problem with someone they thought was a friend?  As much as possible, those stories will also include audience participation.  

Me playing dulcimer in my One-Room School program

In between stories, that saucepan of attendees will again be involved.  Many songs let a child choose an action everybody does.  For example the old favorite of "If you're happy and you know it" can become "If you're friendly and you know it", letting the chosen child name the group's next action.  I plan to use my Mountain Dulcimer, one of many folk instruments I enjoy playing and deserves to be better known.  (I always find great interest in this instrument that has three names: Mountain Dulcimer; Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer; and Lap Dulcimer -- as it's played sitting down and totally unlike the Hammered Dulcimer.  I don't want to get Hammered!)

There are stories from every continent and major ethnic group in that stewpot.  Here's a short tale from Burmese Folk Tales by Maung Htin Aung that can be found at the Internet Archive.  (After the story I want to say more about the Internet Archive.)  Burma is now called Myanmar, but the language is still called Burmese.

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library offering millions of free books, movies, & audio files, plus billions of saved web pages in the Wayback Machine.  Along with Project Gutenberg, and Wikipedia, I annually donate and suggest you do, too.  These three resources are so important to this blog and to me as a reader.  I hope you donate, too, and want you to be aware of how they are fighting for the right of libraries to continue lending, including digitally.  Four major publishers are suing the Internet Archive trying to shut down the digital lending program.  Digital books are not owned by the libraries, although the cost is substantial, and don't stay available indefinitely, unlike a printed book.  There is much information available on the lawsuit which is now beginning oral arguments on March 20.  This is a brief overview of the situation

I also hope you go to their Battle for Libraries website and sign their petition.

These digital resources are volunteer-driven and deserve our Friendship!


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown -

         - Richard Martin -

         - Spirit of Trees -

         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - 

           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

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