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StoryCorps: Another Institution that Values Stories

by on February 26, 2013

StoryCorps, just like libraries, understands the power of stories.

According to the organization’s website, StoryCorps’s mission is, “We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters. At the same time, we will create an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations.”

For 10 years now, the nonprofit organization has accumulated over 45,000 interviews of everyday people, people who seem ordinary but often have extraordinary tales to tell. Each interview is about 40 minutes and at the end of it, one CD is given to the participants. Another CD is filed with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The goal of the organization is to preserve as many stories as possible for historical and cultural purposes.

Currently there are story booths in Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco, California; and Atlanta, Georgia. At each location there are several community partners that assist in the process, including libraries. In addition, there is a mobile booth, an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio that travels the country year-round collecting stories. The website has the latest information on the next stop of the mobile booth tour. Do-it-yourself kits are also available. There are even directions on how to do a self-guided interview.

Due to the success and popularity of the organization, it has now evolved into more than just recorded stories. The recordings have inspired the publication of books such as Listening is an Act of Love, Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, and All There is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. Also, there is a DVD of animated shorts created based on some of the organization’s most beloved stories. Such shorts include a heartwarming conversation between a mother and her twelve-year-old son who has Asperger’s Syndrome and the twenty-seven-year love story of Danny and Annie.

Last year was the fifth anniversary of The National Day of Listening, which StoryCorps created and sponsors. It’s usually held the day after Thanksgiving. The hope is that the event’s timing allows for dialogue between loved ones gathered during that particular holiday weekend. According to the website, “The National Day of Listening is a day to honor a loved one through listening. It’s the least expensive but most meaningful gift you can give.”

To learn more about partnering with StoryCorps, check here.

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