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Capturing Community Stories

Sacramento Public Library, CA
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Innovation Summary

The Green Studio is the result of a partnership between the Sacramento Public Library and Access Sacramento, the area’s local public-access cable channel. This partnership has resulted in a re-evaluation of essential stories that need to be told, such as the “Valley to Vietnam” series.

Innovation Leader: Lori Easterwood, Programs & Partnerships Coordinator, leasterwood@saclibrary.org

Problem Statement

The library as content producer--not simply as content provider--is a recurring theme in the Sacramento Public Library’s most innovative projects. Like the I St. Press (the Library’s publishing effort), the Green Studio allows the library to create a portion of the content found in the collection. Green Studio video projects have included storytime recordings, filmed library programs, oral histories and interviews with Adult Literacy tutors and learners. This content documents the Library’s role in the community and helps meet Goal #1 of the Strategic Plan, to “increase positive public awareness, engagement, and ownership of the library.” All content produced using this equipment is aired on Access Sacramento and made available online by both the Library and the cable channel. The number of public-access cable channels is dwindling nationwide, primarily due to a change in FCC rules. That is why this project comes at an important time for both public-access television and libraries. The methods that are being developed are intended to serve as a model for library and public-access partnerships—one that furthers the missions of both organizations, represents an innovative new service for each group, and extends the awareness of both in the community.

Innovation

Access Sacramento approached the library with a plan to install a video recording studio. While it is hard to say “no” to a donation of $30,000 worth of equipment, budget constraints have resulted in a staffing shortage that initially made the Library question whether the Green Studio equipment could be fully utilized. It took some creative shifting of resources and capitalizing on the talents of staff to make this project feasible. The Friends group stepped up with funding for a part-time production assistant. Installation of the equipment required a further commitment of parts and labor from the library. Bringing library staff up to speed on the use of this equipment has required the greatest commitment of time from both the library and Access Sacramento. Weekly trainings build confidence and skill using the recording and green screen editing equipment. All of this effort has paid off in the most exciting Green Studio project to-date, the “Valley to Vietnam” series. This ongoing program consists of interviews with Vietnam War veterans from the Sacramento Valley who returned to the region after their service. As each project is aired on Access Sacramento, the library expands its reach, but most importantly, adds to the body of knowledge about the region and community. These videos are treated as oral histories and are transcribed and included in the Library’s local history archives in the Sacramento Room.

Progress

• Veterans who participate in the “Valley to Vietnam” project gain the chance to tell their story and achieve recognition for their service. A local school even wants to include “Valley to Vietnam” interviews in class coverage of the Vietnam War. • Library programs are recorded and aired on Access, which both promotes the exciting things happening at the library and preserves those events. • Video produced can easily be used in library social media. • The library creates PSAs that are aired on Access Sacramento and featured on the library website. The next step in the evolution of this partnership is to make the equipment accessible to the community and to train people to tell their stories. The mission of the Sacramento Public Library is to deliver “ideas, information, and resources to help our community discover, learn, and grow.” The spirit of this mission is not dissimilar to that of Access Sacramento—to give “voice to the thoughts, dreams, opinions and community events not otherwise seen or heard.” Both the Library and Access Sacramento are in the business of empowering the citizens of Sacramento. This is why the partnership with Access Sacramento in creating the Green Studio has been so exciting and full of potential for both organizations. With this studio equipment, the Library has begun to tell its story and the stories of the people in the community.