A Celebration of Latino Lives in Florida, a storytelling and -recording event, was part of a series of nine events planned for our university's Latino Americans: 500 Years of History  celebration. After a presentation on storytelling in Latino culture, some attendees volunteered to share stories with the audience. Some participants recorded individual stories onsite in private locations, and others visited the radio studio at a later date. These stories were aired on WLRN Public Radio 91.3 and archived on the WLRN Public Storyteller  website.
I started the planning process in February 2015 when I applied for a Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant offered by the American Library Association (ALA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). As part of this process, I contacted Latino scholars both on and off campus, shared information about the grant, asked for their participation and also requested referrals for other scholars. Additionally, I had to seek local partners willing to participate, so I contacted several local media outlets regarding promotion of the events and the cost for promotion. I was able to get three partners, acquiring letters of commitment from each.
We had a total of nine events planned for the grant period. For this first event, we shared the planning. This made it quite the challenge since we were coordinating with the presenter, radio host/editor and participants who recorded their stories for the radio program.
To promote the event to the South Florida community, we arranged some advertising in advance with the Miami New Times, which provided 20,000 ad impressions on their website and two weekly listings in their promotional newsletter to their 34,000 subscribers. The university's marketing department also promoted the event on campus, as well as to external local and social media. (View examples of marketing materials under Attachments at right.) Additionally, a large poster was placed on the first floor of the library by the entrance. Our local partners also helped to promote the event.
The total budget for the event was $1,870. This broke down to $1,500 for the presenter (including $300 for the radio host/editor), $270 for the Miami News Time fees, and $92.45 for refreshments.
Two colleagues helped me set up the room, which included arranging tables and chairs. We also set up tables with table covers for refreshments and a guest book for signing in.
Our presenter had requested an easel, flipchart/whiteboard, markers, high stool, cordless microphone, Latino music playing at the beginning of the event and prizes for storytellers. All of this was in place before their arrival. The room we used was a smart room, so it was already equipped with the necessary technology. Audiovisual staff set up video-recording equipment, and another colleague volunteered to monitor the video recording, as the audiovisual staff was not available to do so. You can view a video recording of the event here .
We also ensured that a private room was available for the recording of individual stories after the main event. Our presenter brought her own audio recorder.
At the beginning of the program, I had the Latino Americans: 500 Years of History libguide  that I had created projected on the screen and Latino music playing. I stayed by the room's entrance to welcome attendees and ensured they signed the guest book. The interim director introduced the presenter, Dr. Caren Neile, who shared information about storytelling in Latino culture and told a popular Latino story about Juan Bobo . She then asked for volunteers to share a story about living in Florida. Dr. Neile also asked everyone to vote for the best two stories. The story that was voted first place was about how a participant, her parents and brother celebrated their first Thanksgiving when they came from Peru. As a prize, they received a Barry University notebook with pen and stainless steel cold/hot drink container. The second place story was from a participant who told a story about a Mexican sitcom that he watched as a kid and how he saw the characters at a Comic Con in Miami. He received a Barry University notebook and pen.
We also had a spread of Latino hors d'oeuvres and pastries from Don Pan International Bakery, a popular Venezuelan bakery/café. Latino colleagues in attendance were available to answer questions about the different refreshments. At the end, I asked everyone to complete the evaluations and collected them. The feedback from the five-point Likert scale evaluation was positive. Dr. Neile and radio host/editor, Michael Stock, then recorded individual stories from Latino volunteers in a private room.
Our attendance for the event was lower than expected. However, three people that were not present shared their stories by going to the WLRN radio studio at an arranged time to have their stories recorded. The recorded stories were aired on Sept. 23, 2015, on WLRN Public Radio 91.3 FM, and are archived on their website. Even though I was disappointed with the low turnout of 15 people, I took comfort in knowing that the stories are available globally to all with access to the Internet.
It is important to allow several months to ensure a successful planning and application process (if you are applying for a grant with a similar program). It was quite a challenge coordinating with everyone involved for the program especially since Barry University required notarized release forms and partnership agreements from all partners and presenters. If your institution requires similar documents, this can take several months of back and forth, so it's important to get that process started as soon as possible.
About This Library
The Monsignor William Barry Memorial Library is located on the main campus in Miami Shores. It serves a very diverse student population of 8,667 FTE faculty and staff. While Barry University is a private institution and access to the library collections is primarily restricted to Barry University students, faculty, staff and alumni, the library supports the research needs of residents of the Village of Miami Shores and academic researchers from around the world. We are staffed by five reference librarians, two catalogers and twelve support staff.