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Title: Local History in the Library: Listening to South Tyrolean Stories
Authors: Urru, Patrick
Keywords: Subject::Oral heritage
Subject::Local history
Issue Date: 4-Sep-2023
Publisher: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
Series/Report no.: 88th IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC), 2023 Rotterdam;Satellite Meeting: Innovative approaches in engaging people with local history and genealogy
Abstract: The term 'oral history' generically defines the historical research methodology which collects memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews. An oral history interview usually consists of a well-prepared interviewer listening to an interviewee and recording their conversations in audio or video format. The recordings are transcribed, summarised or catalogued and stored in a library or archive. These interviews can be used for research purposes or released in a publication, a radio or video documentary, a museum exhibition or a theatre performance. Between 2003 and 2007, the South Tyrolean historian Giorgio Delle Donne conducted oral history interviews to document the experiences of people who had settled in South Tyrol. By the end of the project, he had interviewed 148 people, ‘privileged witnesses’ of local history selected from the Italian-speaking community of South Tyrol. He stored these interviews in the Italian Provincial Library «Claudia Augusta» in Bolzano/Bozen to provide schoolteachers with the opportunity to use these video interviews in their teaching of local history. Over the years, the library has continued collecting interviews to document local history. This paper focuses on the collaborative work between librarians and interviewees building a unique local history collection. The voices of the individuals represent the multiplicity of perspectives in dialogue with each other, this way reinforcing the process of recognition of the people as a fundamental part of this community. The importance of the accessibility guaranteed by a proper preservation of the interviews is a fundamental tool for enhancing the life stories of the interviewees which become fundamental sources to research local history. The role of preservation unites oral history and the library. Oral history is a conversation about the past that happens in the present and is future-oriented; similarly, archiving means choosing, interpreting, and keeping traces that would otherwise be erased. Keywords: Oral History, Local History, Libraries, South Tyrol.
Appears in Collections:World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) Materials

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