Let Me Tell You a Story

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As librarians, storytelling is baked into the scrumptious goodness that is our career. It's not so much inferred that we will all be storytellers with puppets or flannel boards, but anyone who has ever explained a job to a colleague or trainee at work can attest to the regular occurrence of a tale being told: There was this one reference librarian who never looked up from her book...nobody ever asked her a question. Right off the bat you're intrigued and you want to understand what happened to this librarian and what was it that made her so incredibly bitter. Humans are tellers of tales. There is an incredible amount of research verifying that human beings understand concepts and connect to material more effectively when taught through story.

I digress, but my point to you, oh library professional, is that stories make us who we are. I say all this also to underline how amazing I feel after completing LIS 423, Storytelling, with Melanie Kimball. I spent the semester learning about story in its various formats and the many purposes it serves. I witnessed peers grow as tellers and heard some amazing stories about Fin M'Coul, the real little mermaid, Kate Crackernuts and the oh-so-amazing Don Coyote. And then we came to the personal storytelling part of the syllabus. I was not prepared for some of these stories. If you've ever listened to the Moth Radio Hour you can attest to the power of the personal story, a true story told by the person who it happened to.  I was lucky enough to develop such a story under the guidance of Professor Kimball. With her help I crafted a story that was short enough to perform at a story slam.

What's that, you say? Well, Boston is lucky enough to have a local version of personal storytelling competitions, or story slams. MassMouth has been around for almost 5 years and is expanding its mission to bring stories to the people of Boston every day. I encourage anyone who has read this far to check out their website and see a slam as soon as possible. I competed at a slam at Doyle's Pub in Jamaica Plain with many of my classmates cheering me on. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life here in Boston. Even though there were about 75 people there in this cavernous pub it still felt so intimate. I was sharing incredibly deep secrets with a group of strangers and it was fabulous! I move on to the semi-finals in March. Win or lose it's still the best thing I have done in a long while. I encourage every GSLIS student to go to a slam, grab a beverage, listen, enjoy and hopefully make it to the stage to tell one of your stories. Here is mine.

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