Stories abound in local libraries, though it’s not often that those who love a good tale get to hear it straight from the source. That’s precisely the goal for Beyond the Binding, a new month-long storytelling series that brings local storytellers to Seacoast libraries. Sponsored by Seacoast Area Libraries (SAL), the series kicks off on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 2 p.m. at Seabrook Library. Throughout January, 18 storytellers will share true stories at 18 libraries across the region.
“This is the most ambitious cooperative project we’ve ever done,” said D. Scott Campbell of SAL, interim director of Kingston Community Library. “We’re trying to raise visibility of libraries in general and demonstrate to non-library users that things are happening at libraries. It’s not just people borrowing books.”
Stacy Mazur, assistant director of Lane Memorial Library in Hampton, organized the series and coordinated with area libraries to host storytellers. According to Mazur, libraries are community gathering places, and the series offers a chance to keep the art of storytelling alive and bring people together during a time of year when it’s tempting to just stay home.
“Libraries aren’t just books anymore, so the series is part of the opportunities to hear each other and the rest of the community.”
— Pat Spalding of True Tales Live
Members of Seacoast Storytellers will share stories at each event. Also among the storytellers will be members of True Tales Live, which produces a monthly storytelling series on Portsmouth Public Media. Pat Spalding, a storyteller and True Tales Live co-host, said True Tales members will tell stories based on the theme of “family influence.” The stories will span everything from disastrous Christmas mishaps to hurricanes, including a mother-son storytelling duo who will tell the same story from different perspectives.
Early in 2016, Spalding hosted a storytelling workshop and presentation at Rye Public Library.
“Libraries aren’t just books anymore, so the series is part of the opportunities to hear each other and the rest of the community,” Spalding said.
Local libraries have cooperated on programs in the past, Campbell said, but nothing as large as Beyond the Binding. Last year, SAL arranged for Anthony Amore, head of security for the Gardner Museum and author of “Stealing Rembrandts,” to give a talk at Lane Memorial Library. That event drew more than 100 people, according to Campbell. And in November, Seacoast Storytellers drew a crowd for their “Tellabration” storytelling event at The Stone Church in Newmarket.
“What makes this so ambitious is the scale. Part of it is that idea of being warm and cozy by the fire and hearing a story. We’re hoping people will shake the snow off their collars and come in and warm up,” Campbell said.