Under the auspices of the Institute, and to a certain extent in cooperation with others, especially the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, a great amount of folklore has been recorded on tape.
Folklore has been collected in all corners of Iceland, as well as in the Icelandic settlements in North America. This material includes rímur (ballads) and other types of folk songs, along with oral compositions in both prose and verse: various poetic genres, all sorts of folktales, and descriptions of folk customs. The Institute also houses a number of smaller folklore collections. The oldest material consists of recordings of folksongs made onto wax cylinders during the years 1903-1912. The Institute now owns or has collected over 2,000 hours of recorded folklore.
During the years 1984-1994 this material was transferred from the original recording tape onto higher quality storage tape. The material has been computer-catalogued and it is now possible to search the collection according to contents, sources, districts, etc. It is possible to search the catalogue on the Institute’s website, under the link "Ísmús” to listen to several recordings. Choice recordings from the collection have been published on CDs, and more CDs of this material are being prepared for publication.