Finding Storytellers

If you are an institution organizing a digital storytelling project, you may have many of your storytellers already selected; or you may have to find storytellers and convince them to participate.

The Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library in Monterey Park, CA was awarded a California of the Past Digital Storytelling Grant in 2010-2011, in which 24 digital stories were to be created featuring local artists, authors and community leaders.  Library staff and local volunteers participated in the filming, editing and distribution of these stories.  In order to convince storytellers to participate, the library advertised the opportunity and actively looked for storytellers who might be interested in telling their stories about Monterey Park and California.  The library partnered with the Monterey Park Art and Culture Commission and the Monterey Park Historical Society to help promote the project and find storytellers.  Even though there was initially noticed community interest in the project, Senior Librarian Cindy Costales stated in an interview that there is a need to continue following up with storytellers to encourage them to participate.  Furthermore, she mentioned that sometimes storytellers are hesitant to share their stories in front of a camera, however when they are shown the comfort of the small room in which they are filmed and the process is explained to them, often they agree to participate.  Offering appointment choices to potential storytellers also increased participation according to Costales.  Sometimes multiple follow-ups are necessary and will help in encouraging storytellers with great stories to get involved (Costales, C., personal communication, March, 29, 2011).

There are number of suggestions to consider implementing when working with outside storytellers:

–       Having storytellers sign release forms when filming ensures that you will be able to distribute their work without any legal issues

–       Surveying storytellers about their experiences may help you receive feedback on your storytelling project and make it better for future participants

–       Setting up events and showings of digital stories created may encourage others to participate while also showing the past storytellers the end results in a public setting.  Giving the storytellers copies of their stories may also be rewarding for the participating storytellers, as they have a copy for their own personal viewing.

Almost everyone may have a story to tell.  Finding that story is possible through communication and persistence.

 

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