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On June 15 USM’s Franco-American Collection hosted an evening of storytelling. Susan Poulin, Michael Parent, and Gregoire Chabot shared their stories and their insights. Throughout the evening some themes emerged:
- Listening and Asking Good Questions
As Susan Poulin noted, a good storyteller needs to listen well and to ask good questions. Michael Parent also listened to the people around him, such as avid hockey fans, as a source for his stories. Gregoire Chabot derived many of his stories by asking the big-picture questions.
- Blending Fact and Imagination
Michael Parent brought up the theme of how fact and imagination can mingle. Susan Poulin described how real people and places inspired the fictional setting of her Ida stories. In creating composite characters Gregoire Chabot combined fact and imagination as well.
- Preserving and Losing Culture
Gregoire Chabot’s stories dealt with the theme of cultural loss: the narrator of his first story, for example, was leaving his Québec farm for life in Lewiston’s mills. Susan Poulin spoke of stories as a way to preserve culture. Michael Parent shared songs as another way of preserving culture.
Asking good questions reflects ACRL (2000) Standard 1.1.b: “Formulates questions based on the information need (p. 8).” In using facts creatively we practice ACRL Standard 1.1.f: “Recognizes that existing information can be combined with original thought, experimentation, and/or analysis (p. 8).”
Then we not only preserve culture but also create new cultural items. Libraries and special collections can help in this dual role of preserving and creating culture.
This event was the first in a series. On July 20 the Franco-American Collection will showcase its oral histories. Stay tuned for more details.
Association of College & Research Libraries. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Chicago, IL: Author.