You’ve probably heard of a Poetry Slam (a gathering where people are encouraged to get up and recite poetry) but have you heard of a Story Slam? Last year, teens stood up and told true stories from their own lives at the Edythe Dyer Community Library. Each night the winning storyteller walked away with $500 and the winner of the Grand Slam won $1,000, thanks to generous sponsorship from Katahdin Trust Company.
Leading up to the event, the library also provided a storytelling workshop to give the teens a chance to try out and refine their stories. There was a strict five minute limit, and there was no inappropriate language allowed, but other than that the kids were free to choose whichever story they wanted to tell.
I thought that a Story Slam program would pair nicely with an interesting program that was mentioned during Buffy Hamilton’s speech: Human Library. This program looks for volunteers to act as a book. Patrons are then able to “check out” a human book for an hour and then have a conversation with him or her. Human books usually represent a demographic that are misunderstood and the program’s goal is to break down the walls of prejudice. After talking about the idea with several EPL librarians, we agreed that it would be a great opportunity to pair seniors with teens and offer a multi-generational program. Better yet, if the conversations were video taped, it would be a way to document the stories. So many people (older and younger) have amazing stories that would be a real asset to the collection.
Without taking up a lot of space, or investing in a lot of expensive equipment, these programs would be an easy, affordable way to introduce participatory culture in the library.