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Sunday, May 9, 2021

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Digital submissions are currently being accepted for the SDSU Library COVID-19 Memory Project. Digital submissions are currently being accepted for the SDSU Library COVID-19 Memory Project.
 


Remembering COVID-19 for Future Generations

An SDSU Library project will record memories of the global pandemic from the campus community as a resource for future historians.
By Rebecca Williamson
 

“We now find ourselves living through an extraordinary crisis. It is critical that we preserve a record about our shared experience.”

It is common to hear “this is a historic time” amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Libraries around the world are taking this to heart, striving to document this  moment in time. This includes the San Diego State University Library and its Special Collections and University Archives team who are launching the SDSU COVID-19 Memory Project.

“One of the core missions of the University Library is to preserve the historical record of SDSU,” said Library Dean Patrick McCarthy. “We now find ourselves living through an extraordinary crisis. It is critical that we preserve a record about our shared experience. I am very excited that the Special Collections and University Archives COVID-19 Memory Project will allow us to preserve the stories, images, and life-altering experiences of everyone at SDSU.”

University Archivist Amanda Lanthorne and Assistant Head of Special Collections and University Archives Anna Culbertson emphasize the lack of historical records at SDSU on the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic — no yearbooks, no commencement programs. Their efforts hope to ensure scholars 100 years from now are able to look back at this time and find historical records from SDSU.

Due to many individuals having different experiences and reactions to the current situation, the hope is for a very broad representation in the collection, including alumni, students at the main campus and SDSU Imperial Valley, faculty, staff and international students.

Contributions are accepted in the form of journals and diaries, written or visual reflections on specific events, original art, poetry, letters, audio recordings, multimedia presentations or films — anything with historical, cultural, or research value. There is also interest in pre-graded assignments completed by students during the pandemic.

While digital submissions are being accepted currently, there is also the hope for physical submissions once the library is reopened.

“There is power in handling someone’s physical journal that can’t be duplicated in a digital rendering,” said Lanthorne.  

There are few restrictions on what will be accepted, and some submissions may not be accepted due to safety, confidentiality, space limitations or a lack of research value.  

Once the items have been received, digital items will be placed in the digital collections database, and physical items will be indexed. Future, students will use these primary sources for research papers and communication professionals will lift quotes to enliven stories about the global pandemic. Historians will have the opportunity to accurately reflect on what the SDSU community experienced during this time period.

To participate or learn more, visit the SDSU Library COVID-19 Memory Project website. For further information or questions, contact askscua@sdsu.edu.