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May 8, 2001

American Folklife Center Launches Storytelling Partnership

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress today announced a cooperative initiative with the International Storytelling Center of Jonesborough, Tennessee. Through this partnership, the two centers will work to collect, preserve, and disseminate information and materials about storytelling.

The International Storytelling Collection has been created at the Library of Congress to serve as a repository for these important archival materials.

At the heart of the partnership is the American Folklife Center's acquisition, from the International Storytelling Center, of one of the largest and most important archival collections about stories and storytelling. The materials include hundreds of hours of audio and video tape that document every National Storytelling Festival held since its founding in 1973, plus many other storytelling events. Also included in the collection is a large quantity of photographs, publications, and manuscripts that further illuminate the revival of storytelling in the United States. One of the strengths of the collection is the large number of recordings of performances by many of the nation's most respected storytellers. This important narrative collection will become part of the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture.

"Telling stories is a universal form of cultural expression. Our alliance with the International Storytelling Center and acquisition of this collection allows us to preserve valuable information about the content, variety, meaning, and performance of stories and personal narratives for appreciation and study by present and future generations," said Peggy A. Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center.

"This is a major step forward for the recognition and appreciation of storytelling in America and across the globe," said Jimmy Neil Smith, founder and president of the International Storytelling Center. "Through this important effort, we will, for the first time in history, conduct an organized effort to collect, preserve, and share the documented history of the role of storytelling in our history and culture."

The International Storytelling Center is developing a facility in Jonesborough that will serve as a tribute to the tradition of storytelling and provide online and on-site access to the storytelling collection.

In addition, the two centers will work together to promote the value of storytelling, produce storytelling-based public programs and publications, and provide educational opportunities about storytelling.

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to preserve and present American folklife through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs, and training. The center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Library's Music Division in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

The International Storytelling Center is dedicated to the study of storytelling and helps people from around the nation and the world capture and tell their stories, preserve their storytelling traditions, and use storytelling to produce positive change. The Center is best known as the producer of the highly acclaimed National Storytelling Festival.

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PR 01-077
ISSN 0731-3527

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