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Huntley, Keene Valley Library launch Our Story Bridge

Tools, resources to create community story projects available free of charge

Jery Huntley gives a presentation about the Keene Valley Library’s Adirondack Community oral history project in September 2019. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

KEENE VALLEY — Just over a year ago, volunteer Jery Huntley and the Keene Valley Library celebrated a milestone — 100 stories collected for the town’s new oral history project, “Adirondack Community: Capturing, Retaining and Communicating the Stories of Who We Are.” This week, they launched a resource to help other communities around the nation create their own oral history project.

It’s called “Our Story Bridge: Connecting the Past and the Present.” Huntley presented the idea to 199 librarians by videoconference on Tuesday, Sept. 29 during the annual meeting of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.

That means Huntley’s life will get even busier than usual.

“My life has always been crazy, but this is a fun craziness,” Huntley said by phone Tuesday. “The kinds of reactions I’m getting already from librarians who gave me feedback on the initial presentation just filled my heart. They’re giving me the energy to follow through with each and every one.”

She’ll give another presentation about Our Story Bridge to 250 more people on Friday, Oct. 2.

Our Story Bridge is a free resource and tool kit for producing a crowdsourced, community story project for libraries and other organizations. Emphasizing audio history collecting and sharing, the website is designed to help organizations create their own story projects using Keene’s Adirondack Community (myadirondackstory.org) as a model. Huntley spearheaded both projects.

The Our Story Bridge website (ourstorybridge.org) hosts an extensive user guide, which is intended to serve as an instructional reference as organizations consider launching a similar project for their own communities.

“We all have a story to tell, many stories,” Karen Glass, Keene Valley Library director and sponsor of both projects, said in a press release. “Life is a narrative, woven out of experience and emotion. Think of Our Story Bridge as the loom on which the fabric of your community’s narrative comes together. Each thread, each story binds the fabric tighter and tighter, creating intricate linkages between individuals, groups, organizations, events, environments, locales and more.”

In its first 15 months, Adirondack Community has collected 175 stories from 110 storytellers.

“(It has) given our community, young and old, a sense of local pride that has been especially helpful as we experience the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bob Woughter, Keene Central School principal, said in a press release. “Through the years our students have participated in projects in which they collect oral histories from older residents, but many of those stories have been lost, unlike the Adirondack Community stories which are brief and on a website fitting the 21st Century.”

For more information on Adirondack Community and Our Story Bridge, email createyourstoryproject@gmail.com or call 410-353-6372.

Our Story Bridge was made possible by the Cloudsplitter Foundation, Adirondack Foundation and community support.