The Amagansett Free Library is turning 100 next year, and as part of the celebration, the library’s oral historian, Kara Westerman, is looking for long-time ‘Gansetters who want to tell their tales.
Inspired by the StoryCorps@YourLibrary program, Ms. Westerman attended the Oral History Summer School in Hudson, NY last summer to learn everything she could about recording, compiling and editing stories told by people in the community.
Using the StoryCorps model, interviews will be recorded conversations between two people who know and care about each other.
Ms. Westerman says the library is setting up a special quiet recording room where interviewers and interviewees can be comfortable sharing their stories.
“Two people will come together and talk to each other,” said Ms. Westerman. “I’ll be the facilitator.”
She’s looking to begin the project by recording interviews with “tradition-bearers,” people who’ve been in the community a long time and know its history.
Each pair of participants will be given a list of questions suggested by Smithsonian Folkways and StoryCorps before they interview each other, in order to spur on the conversation.
She’s lined up her first few interviews with some regular attendees at the East Hampton Senior Nutrition Center’s lunch program.
She said some of her earliest participants plan to talk about the ethnic divisions in early Amagansett, when people from different countries lived in different parts of town.
“Even the Italians were split up. The Sicilians lived on one side, and they were looked down on by the northern Italians,” she said.
Ms. Westerman said plans are in the works to upload the stories, once they’re edited, to the library’s website. She’s also asking participants to bring in old photographs from around Amagansett, which will be scanned into the library’s files and then returned, on the spot, to participants.
“This might be the best job in the world,” she said.
If you’d like to participate in the project, contact Kara Westerman at the library at 631.267.3810 or at email@example.com.