Storytelling center opens at King Family Library

Apr. 29, 2013 @ 11:56 PM

A joint venture of the Sevier County Library and the Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association, The Storytelling Resource Center held its grand opening at King Family Library on Saturday.

Officers Janice Brooks-Headrick, Susan Fulbright and Jeanette Stevens shared the history of the association and spoke on the importance of keeping our storytelling heritage alive. History Center Geneologist Tim Fisher conducted a tour of the new facility.

The center provides resources for teachers, students and researchers, and members of the public can also come into the library to tell their own stories via audio or video.

“When you go upstairs and see the empty shelves, that’s the idea,” said Susan Fulbright, vice-president of the association. “We have a responsibility to future generations to continue adding to the collection. We will have a treasure trove of stories, ideas and history.”

President Brooks-Headrick said the goal of the center is to house the collection in a safe place where the primary sources can be enjoyed by members of the public. “We realized there’s no one place where all stories are, nowhere for people to go to look for them. Most of them are in the Library of Congress,” she said.

While all the resources in the center are for in-house use only, due to rarity and age, photocopies may be made or images saved to a thumb drive.

The Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association began as a small group began telling stories in Cades Cove. In 1994, the group became a nonprofit corporation. To the members’ knowledge, they are the longest running storytelling group in Tennessee.

Sheila Kelley, who lives in Miami Beach but travels to Sevierville frequently for work, was intrigued by the new center. “It’s a good community resource,” she said. “I’ve never been exposed to storytelling, but I think it’s an interesting cultural exchange.”

The Storytelling Resource Center is now open on the third floor of the library, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is accepting donations of tax-deductible materials. Plans are in place for gathering oral history, teaching the art of storytelling, and presenting live programs.

jfrye@themountainpress.com