App of the Week: StoryCorps

Name: StoryCorps
Platform:
Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later
Cost:
Free!!

Since 2003, the nonprofit organization StoryCorps has been traveling around the United States collecting digital recordings of the stories of regular people. According to their website, their “mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. …StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.” You may have seen their silver airstream parked at a public building near you as they continue to collect new stories.

The organization has partnered with National Public Radio so that portions of recordings can be heard on Morning Edition weekly. They also maintain a’ podcast.’ Thus far, they have published two anthologies of interviews: Listening is an act of love and’ Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps. Perhaps your library has these titles. Perhaps you have already incorporated their oral history initiative into your teen programming.

If not, showcasing their App may be just the entry point you’ve been looking for.

Along with including audio clips of some of the thousands of stories the organization has collected,’ the app includes a How-To Guide, including a helpful video,’ for setting up interviews.

There is also an interactive Questions list so that you can choose commonly asked questions about growing up, love & relationships, working, and military experience, to name a few. All a user has to do is check off the questions that look good and then click finish. The list of chosen questions will appear and are able to be emailed.

Finally, the app suggests two iPhone recording apps and gives brief instructions so that users can begin to take their own interviews then and there, with their own device. The app becomes an instruction booklet, organizer, and recorder.

Wouldn’t it be great to ask teens to download this app to their own phones so they could record family and friends? If there’s only one iPhone in the area, teens could take turns going through the question lists and email them so the questions could be printed out. A whole program could be built around this app! Then, the teen room could rally to get StoryCorps in their neighborhood, or the librarians could facilitate sign-ups if your town is lucky enough to have a regular or roving booth in the area. No matter what way we use this, this app encourages us to ask important questions and take the time to listen to one another.

About Kate Covintree

Currently working as an Upper School librarian at an independent school in Rhode Island.
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