International Art of Storytelling
The 2014 International Art of Storytelling was a huge success!
A big thank you to all who participated!
View the AOS Photo Gallery
What is the International Art of Storytelling?
The International Art of Storytelling (AOS) was created in 2000, to highlight the important role that storytelling plays in education, culture and entertainment. This ancient tradition carries the rich histories and values of past generations, and is as vital today as it was thousands of years ago.
International Library Exchange
Over the last 13 years, Miami‑Dade Public Library System has partnered with public libraries from around the world, to explore ways in which storytelling is used as a tool for literacy.
The 2013 International Exchange Partner was the public library system in Madrid, Spain. In November of 2013, the first of three exchanges took place when Library Director Raymond Santiago and Library Capital Development Coordinator Julio Castro traveled to Spain to meet and share elements of the International Art of Storytelling and ways in which the Bibliotecas de la Comunidad de Madrid could be involved in this special storytelling program.
During a follow‑up visit in March 2013, Library Operations Administration Miriam Quiros‑Laso, Librarian Janelle Gonzalez and Librarian Carmen Centeno presented workshops about Children and Teen Programming and Services at the Miami‑Dade Public Library. The delegation attended “Un Madrid de Cuento 2013,” Madrid’s Storytelling Festival which took place in libraries, bookstores, cafes and cultural centers, and participated in a storytelling workshop given by Estrella Escrina, a professional storyteller.
During the final exchange, it was Miami‑Dade’s opportunity to host the Spanish delegation when they arrived in April 2013. The delegation gave presentations on their library system and programs, learned about the Miami-Dade Public Library System, toured the libraries and experienced Miami’s rich culture.
Since the Art of Storytelling (AOS) began in 2000, administrators and library staff have traveled more than 79,000 miles across the world covering five continents where eight different languages are spoken – all in an effort to share ideas and storytelling techniques with other library systems. In 2012, the Taipei Public Library in Taiwan was selected and the exchange was an interesting blend of cultures as the delegates from both countries discussed the ways storytelling is used to promote literacy and the library.
In March, the Miami delegation – librarians Rafael Costa, Sharon Carpenter and Elizabeth Pearson – traveled to the Taipei Public Library where they were warmly welcomed by Library Director Shih‑chang Horng and members of his staff. During their visit, they experienced Taipei through library tours, one‑on‑one discussions, presentations and site seeing. While there, the team conducted trainings about the Library System’s Reading Ready initiative, Capital Plan projects, Programming and the Five‑Star Customer Service philosophy. Sharon Carpenter even told stories to toddlers during a storytime!
In April, the week preceding Festival Day, the Taipei delegation, which consisted of Clare Tien, Jean Kao, Kelly Chang and TJ Chang, made their way to Miami to present workshops, learn about the Miami‑Dade system and experience the cultures, sites and tastes that make Miami so unique. The delegation performed at several Tales Under the Stars and on Festival Day.
While the experience for both pairs of delegates is an invaluable one, for the Library System as a whole, it is a very important because it allows for new ideas to emerge and has helped to bridge the gap between our local culture and the cultures found in our exchange partner.
The 2011 International Exchange Partner was the public library system in Copenhagen, Denmark. Part one of three exchanges took place in November 2010, when Library Director Raymond Santiago and Assistant Director of Outreach Services Lucrece Louisdhon‑Louinis traveled to Copenhagen to meet and share the elements of AOS and ways in which the Denmark Public Libraries could be involved in this special storytelling program. During their visit, they met with the City Librarian of Copenhagen, Jens Ingemann, and members of his executive team who provided information about their system, current projects and programming.
During a follow‑up visit in March 2011, Library Director Raymond Santiago was joined by Administrator Gia Arbogast and Librarian Louise Gestwicki who were there to present workshops on Storytelling Tools & Techniques and the Vision & Strategies for Running the Miami‑Dade Public Library System. A majority of their time was spent visiting library branches, meeting with staff and discovering ways to bring back some of the interesting elements that the Danish system uses.
Finally, it was Miami‑Dade’s opportunity to host the Denmark delegation when they arrived on April 24, 2011. Their week was full of presentations, performances and touring as well as enjoying some of Miami’s rich culture!
In November 2009, Miami‑Dade Public Library Director Raymond Santiago and staff visited Buenos Aires, Argentina to meet with administrators and staff of Argentina's popular library (La Comisión Nacional Protectora de Bibliotecas Populares). The group toured several facilities and met with library officials and staff to learn about operations and programming. The delegation was also welcomed by the Argentinean Consul General of Miami and other officials who shared information on the country’s history and culture. In March 2010, another delegation visited Argentina to present workshops on programming and services, including the successful Reading Ready program, and to learn about its library system and culture.
During the week of April 26, 2010 Argentinean library officials and staff visited Miami‑Dade where they were warmly welcomed by library and county officials, library staff, and members of the Argentinean community. The group shared information on programs and services; participated in workshops, special storytelling performances and the International Festival on Saturday, May 1st.
The information shared during these exchanges has been beneficial to both library systems as well as the communities they serve.
In November 2008, library administration visited the Toronto Public Library, Canada. This visit offered a look inside one of the largest library systems in North America, with 99 branches and 11 million items loaned annually. During the visit, they toured 10 branches; met with librarians and administrative staff and saw Toronto’s interesting and unique collections. Unlike the Miami‑Dade System, which is comprised of a main library and individual branches, the Toronto system is comprised of research and reference and district and neighborhood libraries. The visitors also had the opportunity to see Toronto’s capital building and renovation projects as well as to learn about their early literacy program.
A second visit occurred in February 2009, where staff had the opportunity to share information on programming, outreach and storytelling techniques, and perform at the Toronto Festival of Storytelling.
The Toronto exchange proved to be very successful, having a positive impact on libraries’ staff, administrators, and most importantly patrons. Some of the initiatives observed in Toronto have since been implemented at the Miami‑Dade Public Library.
In February 2008, a delegation from the Miami‑Dade Public Library System traveled to Medellin, Colombia for a tour of its library systems. The group visited seven systems, which included more than 50 branch locations, a presentation to more than 200 staffers and a discussion on outreach techniques, collection development, financial management, programming for babies to teens, and automation.
During the week of April 29, 2008, Colombian library professionals and the famous storyteller Jorge Ambrosio Villa Zapata visited Miami‑Dade County. The visitors toured branches where they shared the history of the Medellin Public Library Systems and offered valuable ideas on programming and storytelling techniques. The group also enjoyed a taste of Miami‑Dade’s impressive cultural diversity by visiting museums, restaurants and other points of interest. On May 2, 2008, they joined 150 librarians, media specialists and educators in a professional workshop series conducted by some of the top U.S. storytellers, and on Saturday, May 3rd performed at the International Festival.
In January 2007, library staff visited Aix‑en‑Provence, France to meet with library professionals from the Bibliothèque Méjanes. The delegation also met with city and library officials to share professional experiences and to gather information, which they brought back to Miami‑Dade to enrich library services.
In March, another delegation of Miami‑Dade librarians visited Aix‑en‑Provence, this time to share their storytelling talents and professional experiences. The librarians presented workshops and visited a local high school where the gained insights into one of Bibliothèque Méjanes’ most popular literary programs – Bouquiner. Bouquiner allows students to read books of their choice; develop a bibliography and write critical reviews. The delegation also enjoyed various aspects of French culture including a visit to the Cité du Livre and Marseilles, where they had an opportunity to view the work of French storyteller Laurent Daycard.
During the week of May 14, 2007, French librarians came to Miami‑Dade and toured branches, shared ideas and gathered new techniques. The visitors also participated in the International Festival Day on Saturday, May 19.
In March 2006, the Miami‑Dade Public Library System sent a delegation of librarians to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to explore its culture and to share stories. In May, a similar delegation from Rio visited Miami‑Dade and spent four days experiencing the diverse culture and learned about South Florida’s history. The group visited library branches, where they discussed ideas and shared storytelling techniques. The Brazilian representatives also attended a two‑day workshop conducted by award‑winning author, illustrator and storyteller Ashley Bryan and Brazilian storyteller Antonio Rocha. The group also performed at the International Festival.
Bahamas • Puerto Rico • Haiti • Trinidad & Tobago
The theme for AOS 2005 was The Art of Storytelling: A Pan‑Caribbean Experience. Miami‑Dade Public Library staff visited libraries in the Caribbean Basin and met with professional colleagues from Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago. A month later, the Caribbean partners visited the Miami‑Dade Library System, sharing their cultures and expertise. Among the various components of that year’s International Festival Day was a Caribbean Book Fair with participating librarians, authors and storytellers.
In April 2004, Miami‑Dade librarians and librarians from Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland participated in several round table discussions in Dublin. While there, the Miami‑Dade librarian met with administration and staff and worked on ways to improve community outreach programs. Library staff was able to share stories and were totally captivated by the richness of Irish storytelling and musical traditions! A month later, the Miami‑Dade Public Library System welcomed the Dublin City librarians / storytellers, who happily shared their expertise. The weeklong visit featured Irish culture including music, dance and storytelling. Many of the Irish groups in the community participated in the activities.
Building on the success of the Jamaica Library‑to‑Library Exchange, the Miami‑Dade Public Library established a partnership with the Ghana Library Board in Accra. Ghana was essential in the search to establish the origin and authenticity of stories told in the “New World.” West Africa, specifically the Ashanti region of Ghana, is considered to be the actual birthplace of the Anansi stories, so popular here in America. The library’s decision to partner with Ghana came from the desire to acknowledge and appreciate the significant impact of West African traditions on the cultures of the United States, the countries of the Caribbean and much of eastern Latin America. Miami‑Dade librarians traveled to different villages in Ghana and presented workshops, shared ideas about community outreach, partnerships and the positive effect of public awareness on the future of library funding.
Two popular storytellers from Ghana came to Miami‑Dade in early May 2003. They performed at several branches and staff, who were thrilled with this extraordinary opportunity to learn how culture is passed down through music and dance, as well as words. The visit concluded with participation in the international storytelling festival, which also featured performances by local storytellers, and storytellers from Haiti, Cuba, Colombia and Iran.
The first International Exchange Partner was the Jamaica Library Service in Kingston, where staff presented workshops on children’s librarianship and multicultural storytelling. They performed traditional American folktales and met with local folklorists who gave insights into Jamaican folktales, particularly stories about the famous trickster, Anansi.
Later that year, two Jamaican librarians / storytellers, traveled to Miami‑Dade where they performed at several branches and presented workshops intended to inform and sensitize staff to the particular needs of Miami‑Dade’s large Jamaican population. The presence of these international librarians provided a forum for open discussion and better understanding of the commonality that is shared. Staff from both countries understood that they share the same purpose and both strive to achieve the same goal of providing excellent library services to their communities.