Jun 11, 2009 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Katy Benson has big plans for the Remembering Camillus oral history project, launching this summer at Maxwell Memorial Library. Staff and volunteers will help archive a collection of recordings that tell Camillus’ history through the experiences, recollections and perspectives of local residents – and it requires your memories.
Benson, library director at Maxwell, hopes to eventually archive the collected recordings online and have them available for check out in the library. She would like to someday be able to develop an interactive Web archive that would allow listeners to comment on a recording and jumpstart a dialogue.
But first, the project needs people willing to sit with an interviewer and have their memories recorded. With so many lifelong residents and multi-generational families in the Camillus area, that is proving the most difficult part of the project.
When Maxwell feted it’s 90th anniversary last year, the Remembering Camillus project was one of many activities the library set up to celebrate the occasion. But interest in recording for the project was limited.
Only four people signed up to participate during the anniversary celebration, Benson said.
This summer, the library will give the project another go, holding free workshops to help hone interviewing and story-telling skills throughout the summer and culminating in a “recording blitz” in August.
A second attempt
Made possible through a grant secured by Sen. John DeFrancisco, the library purchased a digital recorder and materials and prepared to record memories.
Children’s librarian Kelly Chambala plans to enlist some technical help from teens through The Town Shop, which Benson sees as an added benefit to the project.
“Teens working with older people it’s so rewarding for both sides,” Benson said. Providing a connection across generations in Camillus and allowing younger residents a glimpse of their own local history will be an added bonus for younger volunteers.
The project is not limited to village or town residents, and Benson invites stories and memories connecting to Camillus through individuals, events or locations.
And while many of the recordings will most likely be historical in nature, the goal is not to compile historically accurate facts, necessarily.
“This is more like a memoir than a biography,” Benson explained. Remembering Camillus values personal experiences, and an image of Camillus through the lens of its community members, so anyone with a memory to share is welcome to participate.
Free workshops planned
The project will begin with a series of free workshops to help prepare volunteers on both sides of the recorder. All workshops are free but space is limited and registration is required.
Sister Joan Suaro, a working writer and creative writing teacher, will return to Maxwell to launch the series with “From Memory to Memoir,” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday June 30. This class will help participants tap into their memories as well as learn the elements of good story telling — bring a photograph of people, places, events or buildings to help grease the memory gears.
Linda Loomis, a journalism professor at SUNY Oswego, will hold a second community workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday July 14 at the library to help develop interviewing skills among participants. Loomis has worked extensively with Liverpool Public Library in producing their oral and video history series, Living Legends.
For teens, an interviewing and recording training session will be held at 5:30 p.m. each Monday in July. Loomis will lead the first session Monday July 6; Benson and Chambala will lead the remainder of the sessions.
In August, skills will be tested with a recording blitz — dates and times to be announced.
To register for a workshop or for more information, visit Maxwell Memorial Library at 14 Genesee St., Camillus or call 672-3661.
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