Catherine Cole is a self-confessed and out-loud lover of the CBC, so when the opportunity arose to pitch an idea for a documentary to CBC Radio, she couldn’t resist.
She had initially suggested her son, a journalist, apply for the broadcaster’s The Doc Mentorship Program, a professional development initiative that pairs emerging and intermediate audio producers with veteran documentary editors. The finished docs are then broadcast on CBC Radio One.
But as the deadline approached and she saw another post about the program on her Facebook feed, Cole decided to give it a shot herself. With just a few days left to apply, she thought of the perfect story. It was quirky and relatable and personal: library shame.
Here’s how CBC describes the topic:
“Catherine Cole is a self proclaimed bookaholic, with a particular affection for libraries. But returning library books has never been high on her list of priorities. Which was OK, until the day she incurred a 180 dollar fine, and was shamed in front of other library patrons. Now, with a chorus of other Library Shamed people (from late-returners to book-nibblers) Catherine Cole is looking for redemption, and once and for all, attempting to clear her record of all library shame.”
“I think of all the other things in my life that are more meaningful, or, you know, deep or profound,” laughs Cole. “It was just a story and something that happened to me, this particular experience with the library, and whenever we did talk about it in social situations, everybody had a story.”
She had almost given up on a positive response from CBC when she received the email to say she’d been accepted. “I was thrilled and very excited.”
Cole had selected Alison Cook of The Doc Project as her mentor, and quickly discovered that “it is this extraordinarily collaborative process…[The CBC team has] a whole set routine and they start you off, and then they tell you what to do, and what they like and what they don’t like. And mostly, they really liked what I did. So that was really great.”
Through hosting a show on Hunters Bay Radio, called Food For Thought, Cole had already developed some audio production skills, and says she learned so much more while working on this documentary for CBC. She received helpful tips including how to interview her subjects, how to record audio clips in the field, and how to edit her work for the best impact. “I learned to listen in a different way,” she says.
When the doc aired for the first time on January 14, Cole invited the people she’d interviewed for a listening party. And since then she’s had positive feedback from others who listened in, too.
“I was very grateful to Huntsville Public Library,” says Cole. “One person said, ‘You’re the only person I ever heard use the word library shame.’ And I think, well, it took me a long time to figure out that it’s all our stuff, it’s not [the library’s] stuff. And I hope that it came across very much as a positive about the library and more or less positive about the quirkiness and the individuals who are involved because I do have a great affection for the Huntsville Public Library.”
Would she do it again?
“I’d love to do another one,” says Cole. “I was very joyful in my experience with the producer, she said very positive things and, you know, you write well and you are a good performer and I look forward to your next pitch…It was a bucket-list dream. I grew up listening to [CBC] and I would love to be able to further develop that relationship. I like stories. I like telling stories. And I thought, what a great medium to do that. So it was fun.”
If you missed it on the radio, you can listen to Catherine Cole’s documentary, “Library Shame”, online at cbc.ca.
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