Documenting local history: a case study in digital storytelling

Suzanna K. Conrad (University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California, USA)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Publication date: 25 November 2013



The purpose of this paper is to investigate possible purposes of digital storytelling and discuss practical implementation in a community-based digital storytelling project.


This case study investigates the function of digital storytelling for archiving local history, specifically by journaling experiences during a digital storytelling grant project at a public library in Southern California.


This case study details a specific example of the impact digital storytelling can have on a community, both to foster community building and also to encourage documentation of local history. The main goal of the project was to present and archive filmed stories from local community members; however, the project also led to increased awareness of digital storytelling and the associated technology both within the library and the greater community.

Practical implications

This article should provide best practice guidelines for administering a community-based digital storytelling project including suggestions for outreach to the larger community, dealing with technical issues, and tackling operational issues.


Digital storytelling has had a profound impact on the way that society communicates and can be used effectively for purposes of outreach and activism, to educate using technology, or to document micro-histories. This case study provides an assessment of the current uses of digital storytelling and presents a successful implementation of a local history digital storytelling project at a public library.



Thanks to Cindy Costales, Senior Reference Librarian and Evena Shu, Senior Librarian, Technical Services, at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library for their valuable feedback during the course of the digital storytelling project as well as their input on this article.


K. Conrad, S. (2013), "Documenting local history: a case study in digital storytelling", Library Review, Vol. 62 No. 8/9, pp. 459-471.

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