FSU creates COVID-19 Community Collecting Project

Courtesy of the COVID-19 Community Collecting Project

The Whittemore Library is looking for contributions to their COVID-19 Collecting Project.

The project aims to capture the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of students, faculty, staff, and the public through a variety of files, including reflection prompts, photos, PowerPoints, and videos.

According to the COVID-19 Community Collecting Project leaders, they are looking for submissions from personal and academic life to upload into the digital archive.

The library holds collecting events every year on topics ranging from veterans to baseball. This year is different because everyone has a COVID-19 story to tell, according to Millie Gonzalez, interim dean of Whittemore Library.

Normally, these projects are only open one day, but because COVID-19 is ongoing, the collecting project will be, too. 

Abe Newall, digital repository coordinator, said, “Originally, … the idea was to have a place for students to share their experiences with how their lives were changed.

“I think the hope was to have the opportunity for them to share anything that really struck them or inspired them,” Newall added.

Gonzalez said, “It’s just life is so drastically different that we would love to capture that.”

Colleen Previte, archivist and special collections librarian, hopes this project will be “therapeutic or cathartic” for people.

Newall said, “There is a documentarian aspect to the project.” 

Previte said, “This is an important time in history, and an important time in the history of Framingham State, and it needs to be preserved.”

Previte added the purpose of the project is “in some way, to comfort them, let them know that everybody is going to pull together.”

Gonzalez said, “Because it’s so personal, it really tells the story of who you are.

“What’s wonderful about the collection, when you look at all the different perspectives, you get to see the beauty of life, and how people are struggling and struggling to make it better,” she added.

Due to COVID-19, most of the project is digitized – which allows everyone to share in a different way than they have in the past.

The submission questions are all related to how the pandemic has affected academic, personal, and work life – the shift to remote instruction, working from home, and the way family and friends keep in touch.

Newall said he has liked the submissions so far and hopes to see more.

Some of the already submitted material includes FaceTime photos of at-risk loved ones, photos of a new hobby, and emotional journals of life during COVID-19.

For Gonzalez, the project is also about trying to think of a sweet moment during a sad time.

In preparing for the project, the library surveyed other institutions about how they were collecting for their archives. The project’s leaders wanted to capture what life is like during the COVID-19 pandemic and how to personalize it. 

Gonzalez, Newall, and Previte emphasized how different this project is from previous collecting events. Newall created an online catalog on Omeka to host all of the submitted materials. 

Omeka is a free, open source program that allows its users to publish and exhibit cultural heritage objects in a gallery format.

Previte said, “If we get a big enough body of work, then maybe we could do an exhibit in the library and share more with the people who are physically here when we all come back, hopefully.”

The project is still accepting submissions.

All of the shared submissions are hosted online and are available for viewing now at http://omeka.flo.org/fsu/s/covid2020/page/welcome