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The Importance of Storytelling

by on June 4, 2013

Recently I watched the webinar, Creating A Culture of Storytelling presented by TechSoup. It featured three fantastic presenters that gave examples of the importance of storytelling within a non-profit or library setting. According to this webinar, storytelling within an organization can lead to employee cohesion, thereby making their organization’s mission stronger.

Viktor Sjöberg is the Digital Services Librarian at the Escondido Public Library. He has actively worked with his library’s LibraryYOU project. In this California library system, LibraryYOU has created several videos of community members showcasing a variety of knowledge and skill sets. Holocaust survivors have told their stories. Local farmers have done podcasts on gardening. Quilting, creating organic cleaners, chair yoga, and grief management through art are just some of the topics these podcasts cover. Community members highlight their skills through their library, which results in the library being even more closely tied to their community.

Zoe Blumenfeld from the Global Fund for Women reported on how her organization had struggled in the past with getting their organization’s mission across to the general public. That is until they started thinking in terms of stories. They held story-telling workshops for all staff. On the organization’s Facebook page, they held an International Women’s Day Staff Contest. Staff wrote on the page why they loved working for the organization, what they had achieved while at the organization, and what they had learned along the way. This allowed the public to understand the goal of the organization and the stories behind that goal. By re-connecting the staff with their own stories of why they were working at the organization, the Global Fund for Women found an impetus to jumpstart their organization’s mission and public presence.

Brandon Walowitz of Lights.Camera.Help believes that video is the most powerful communications tool a nonprofit organization can use to tell their story. They have found that with the right kind of video, not only can a group’s story be told in an attractive manner, but volunteers and sponsors can be motivated to help. Lights.Camera.Help. helps nonprofits and libraries find ways to tell their stories through video. Simple steps such as what lighting is used, where the microphone is, background music, and the length of the video can make all the difference to how your story is told and received. This group provides classes throughout the year about how to make a video tell your story. Check the website periodically for dates.

This presentation contains a wealth of details that would be valuable to libraries. Thanks to technology and the fairly low cost of certain devices such as camera phones, Flip Cameras, and software, local videos can be added to a library’s website or social media outlet. A campaign such as International Women’s Day Staff Contest could be used to advertise a library’s mission through staff storytelling. This can be especially effective when library staff is disconnected from each other and the purpose of their library system as a whole. Video contests are another way that the public, especially teens, can connect to their library.

Watch the archive of this webinar here and see how you can modify the tips and information to tell your library’s story.