September 29, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of OurStoryBridge, the free online resource and tool kit for producing crowdsourced, web-based community story projects. And with this anniversary comes the launch of several oral history projects OurStoryBridge has inspired across the United States, with even more to follow.
The tool kit, posted on www.ourstorybridge.org, has received national interest from librarians, historical societies, teachers, and other organizations beyond the original expectations of its creators.
Emphasizing audio history collecting and sharing, OurStoryBridge is designed to help libraries and other organizations create their own story projects that reflect the unique narratives of the past and present of their communities. Highlights in the last year include working with communities across the country starting their story projects, presentations to over 1,200 interested librarians, historians, archivists, and others in 46 states, over 360 OurStoryBridge User Guide downloads, 2,100 Unique Users visiting the website, attention from the press, and the creation of a monthly e-newsletter circulated to 750 professionals interested in starting story projects.
Jery Y. Huntley, MLS, founder of OurStoryBridge said, “In the last year, communities across the country have already used our free tools and assistance to begin their own crowdsourced, community-building story projects that result in dynamic, individualized websites that collect and share three- to five-minute, locally created audio stories paired with photographs specific to each community. OurStoryBridge projects capture the rich history of communities, with a focus on recording older generations before their history is lost, as well as build civic pride and engagement among students to encourage their growth as involved community members, in the media accessible to young and old.”
OurStoryBridge, sponsored by the Keene Valley Library in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, is based on their model, Adirondack Community: Collecting, Retaining, and Communicating the Stories of Who We Are, at www.myadirondackstory.org, a multi-year local history project whose 220-plus stories and 16 podcasts have relevance beyond the community’s borders, in any library and classroom.
Beyond Keene Valley, OurStoryBridge communities from the Tremonton City Library in Utah (www.ourbrvstories.org), an indigenous tribe in Igiugig, Alaska (www.igiugigstorybridge.org to be released shortly), North Elba Historical Society in Lake Placid, New York (www.lakeplacidhistory.com to be posted shortly) and across the country are collecting stories. The quick adoption of OurStoryBridge and endorsements from other libraries throughout the United States affirm that there is rich historical value in this endeavor and many captivating stories to be told.
Debbie Carter, Assistant Librarian at the Tremonton City Library in Utah said, “OurStoryBridge made it so easy and accessible because we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel; everything was done for us and all we needed to do was follow your example.”
OurStoryBridge efforts to create a network of community stories across the country have given rise to a new audience of listeners: students. Through the creation of a Teacher’s Guide, educators can incorporate these collected stories into their daily lessons. The Teacher’s Guide on the OurStoryBridge and Adirondack Community websites guides teachers through selection of stories to bring life to their lessons and by October 15 will include stories from three OurStoryBridge projects, with more to be added soon.
OurStoryBridge (www.ourstorybridge.org) has been made possible by the Cloudsplitter Foundation, the Adirondack Foundation’s Lake Placid Education Foundation, and community support. For more information on OurStoryBridge, email [email protected].