Queens: Neighborhood Stories
Queens, New York City, USA
January 2014 – June 2014
The digital project allowed us to reach even larger audiences, many of whom spent a much larger than average amount of time on the site engaging with the content.”
— Natalie Milbrodt, Queens Borough Public Library
Why was it run?
Queens Library wanted to celebrate the heritage of Queens and the diversity of its neighbourhoods. This project aimed to build on an existing programme about the history of the area, by increasing community participation and encouraging the public to add to a collaborative archive telling the history of the area.
Queens Borough Public Library, two CUNY Service Corps interns
- 33 event attendees
- 1,500 visitors to site over 6 months
Queens Library staff, supported by two CUNY Service Corps interns, worked with local branch libraries to run a series of community events which brought together community groups in their local library to share and capture local stories.
The centrepiece of this programme was a partnership with St Albans library who ran activities which tied in with wider programming around the history of hip hop. They blended afternoon reminiscence sessions targeted at local older people with evening events targeted at younger audiences to create a free flowing event of community storytelling about St Albans.
All the material gathered, as well as archival material, was shared on a dedicated Neighborhood Stories space on Historypin.org where people also used the Tour tools to create digital heritage trails around particular neighbourhoods.
“The highlight was having an opportunity to share experiences and memories, that may be referenced in a written or oral history of the area.
What was created?
- A digital archive of 859 photos and stories on historypin.org
- 8 community events
At the Hip Hop History events, Queens residents were invited to share their knowledge of hip hop history and culture in South Jamaica. Bringing along photos, event posters, hip hop mementos and stories, participants could get their artefacts and photos scanned and admired.
- Around 40% of participants surveyed met someone new from a different generation
- Around 40% of participants surveyed met someone new from a different culture
The collection on Historypin had:
- 1,830 visits
- Engaged people for an average of 10:28 minutes
- 859 contributions
The programme model developed in St Albans was replicated in 2014/2015 with CUNY Service Corps employees and full time library staff at both the Sunnyside Community Library and the Sunnyside Community Services Center in Queens. Queens Library are considering expanding it to include more Queens-based cultural institutions including The Noguchi Museum and the Museum of the City of New York.