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Why Do Toes Wrinkle in the Bath?

If you?ve got a story you?d like to share, then StoryCorps is the Web site for you. StoryCorps is a national initiative to instruct and inspire Americans to record one another?s stories in sound. The project is the brainchild of MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay and his award-winning nonprofit documentary company, Sound Portraits Productions.

Albert Kahn and wife Doris ?Logo for National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program

The Library of Congress? American Folklife Center will house the StoryCorps archives, thus ensuring its preservation and availability to future generations. It has the potential to become one of the largest documentary oral history projects ever donated to the Library of Congress. The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American Folklife." The center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American Folk Music. The center and its collections have grown to encompass all aspects of folklore and folklife from this country and around the world.

StoryCorps will build soundproof booths across the country where, for a nominal charge, Americans can bring relatives or friends to conduct broadcast-quality oral history interviews with the guidance of a trained facilitator. The facilitator will help create a list of questions and handle all of the technical aspects of the recording. At the end of the 40-minute session, the participants will be able to keep a CD of their interview. With their permission, a second copy will become a permanent part of the American Folklife Center?s archives. The opening of the first StoryBooth on Oct. 23 in New York City?s Grand Central Terminal launched StoryCorps? multiyear program.

The StoryCorps archives may also grow into one of the largest ?born digital? collections in the Library of Congress. What?s ?born digital?? The term refers to materials such as books, journals, recordings or anything that exists only in digital (as opposed to analog) form. Much of what appears on the Web is born digital. And born digital materials are often lost before they can be preserved, making it impossible for those who follow to access the information they contain. For example, if you wanted to see how candidates in the 1996 elections used the Web to provide details about their candidacy, you?d be hard-pressed to do so because those Web sites -- and the historical record they are a part of -- have vanished.

The Library of Congress is thus leading a nationwide effort to develop an infrastructure to preserve digital materials and ensure that they can be accessed in the future. Called the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, this project will work with many other institutions to collect and preserve important, but ephemeral, digital information.

A. Albert Kahn and wife Doris. "If the world today would be like Coney Island was at that time, it would be no trouble." StoryCorps recording in which Mr. Kahn tells Doris about Coney Island's movie houses.

B. Logo for National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, Library of Congress

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