Digital storytelling programs and events can be successful in a wide variety of settings, from libraries to museums to schools. In this chapter of "Digital Storytelling in Practice," we'll look in depth at examples of four very different settings where digital storytelling has thrived--a suburban public library, a major research university, a museum and a public library in the Netherlands that is pursuing cutting-edge technology. While different situations require different efforts, we'll see that there are some requirements for a digital storytelling program that are the same regardless of the setting.
CASE STUDY 1
Digital Storytelling in Academic Libraries
by Anne Fields and Karen Diaz, Ohio State University Libraries
While stories and storytelling are most commonly associated with public library programming, the academic library also has an important role to play in the facilitation, promotion, and propagation of digital storytelling. As cultural and educational centers and repositories, academic libraries can serve their institutions by getting involved in a variety of aspects of digital storytelling, from programming and workshops to archiving. In an academic setting, digital storytelling can be a powerful tool for enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations.
At Ohio State, the digital storytelling program involves contributions from and services for students, faculty, and staff. Our mission, as stated on our website, is as follows:
The OSU Digital Storytelling Program's mission is to help the academic community communicate their passion for teaching, research, and outreach through personal, engaging storytelling. We accomplish this through workshops, showcases, presentations, and publications, emphasizing particularly the workshops in which participants learn to use digital tools and interactive story circles to craft powerful narratives. We are committed to the story as an important medium for reaching new audiences and fostering new collaborations within the academic community, as well as with the citizens of Ohio and the global community. We are committed to the process as much as the product because we believe the process lends itself to digital storytelling as a teaching tool.
Goal 1: To provide the campus community with workshops and other learning opportunities that introduce new technologies and multimodal literacy concepts in order to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for producing digital stories in an academic environment.
Goal 2: To reach new audiences and foster new collaborations by providing showcases, conference presentations, and scholarly publications that describe and evaluate the effect of the DSP on teaching, research, and outreach at OSU.
Coal 3: To preserve and provide free access through the World Wide Web to digital stories created at OSU.
Goal 4: To act as a clearinghouse for information about digital storytelling at OSU. (1)
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The term digital story is used very loosely across academia--it can mean anything from illustrated PowerPoint presentations to gaming. Within our program at Ohio State University, digital stories are defined as short (three-to five-minute) digital movies composed of some combination of digitized still images, video and sound clips, and voice-over narration.
Many large university libraries serve as archives and repositories, and stories are an important part of our culture and our society's body of knowledge. As a large institutional repository, the Ohio State University houses a growing searchable archive of digital stories. In addition to providing easy access to these digital stories for use in our university, by housing this media, we're also preserving them as cultural documents for future generations.
Of course, academic libraries are centers of education first and foremost, and storytelling has a role in education at all levels. Information literacy is a crucial skill for any college student--you can't get a college degree without being able to conduct research and get information from a wide variety of sources. Digital storytelling can help college students hone these skills.
The creation and consumption of digital stories develops visual literacy by encouraging creators to put words and pictures together, an especially important skill in the age of the Internet and television. Students can also learn to interpret images more abstractly through digital storytelling; they can see how images may be associated with concepts or emotions as opposed to having only a literal meaning.
Joe Lambert at Center for Digital Storytelling sees working with digital images in a digital story as actually bringing people back to words, (2) and we've seen this process ourselves in the workshops we've done. We see people crafting their scripts in the workshop well before we begin to work with images. We actually hold a preliminary workshop just to work on scripts a few weeks before the three-day workshop when we work on the scripts again. Then as students set their images to their recorded narration, they become acutely aware of the words they've used: how the pictures fit the words and vice versa. Neither the words nor the pictures (nor the music) exist apart from each other, and it's wonderful to see even academics become newly excited by this.
Digital storytelling develops technology literacy. As we've seen throughout this issue of Library Technology Reports, to create digital stories, you must learn to use a wide variety of hardware (digital still and video cameras, scanners, and of course computers), operating systems (Mac OS/Windows operating systems), and software (photo, sound, movie editing). It is difficult to imagine anyone getting through a modern university without these skills, and by engaging in digital storytelling programs, academic libraries can help students enhance …