Southeast’s Special Collections and Archives Documenting COVID-19 Pandemic in New Digital Collection

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Signage on campus alert faculty, staff, students and visitors that buildings are closed due to the pandemic.

Southeast Missouri State University’s Special Collections and Archives is inviting Southeast students, faculty and staff, and community members to share how the COVID-19 pandemic has turned daily life upside down with submissions to be compiled in a new collection to document this life-changing event for historical posterity.

This special digital collection, titled “Documenting the Pandemic: Stories from Southeast,” is currently being compiled and will be available online in Special Collections’ Digital Collections this fall.

“Staff in Kent Library’s Special Collections & Archives is trained to collect and preserve primary source materials that document our University and the regional history of Southeast Missouri,” said Roxanne Dunn, Special Collections and Archives librarian. “We’re stepping outside of that box a little bit by asking people to share these primary sources, or first-hand accounts, of how the pandemic has changed their lives and then deposit those stories and experience with Special Collections & Archives.”

Tape has been used to cordon off playgrounds to visitors during the pandemic.

Beginning today, April 28, those wishing to submit items – stories, images and video — to the collection can upload their stories, pictures, and videos with a brief explanation at  https://library.semo.edu/service-areas/special-collections-and-archives/dtpsfs.

Dunn said she wanted to attempt to capture how the pandemic has drastically altered the landscape both on campus and in the southeast Missouri community. Many archives across the United States are developing similar projects and she said she was inspired by the different ways in which archivists are reaching out to the communities they serve to document their stories.

Kent Library remains dark during the coronavirus outbreak.

“I thought we could do something similar and try to capture the stories our Southeast community has to tell,” she said. “There are so many ways that life has changed that the Archives wants to try and capture some of that.  How has the pandemic changed your educational and University experience and your daily life? Did you move off campus due to COVID-19? What was that experience like? How did you get your personal belongings off campus? We want to know how are things different now. How have students adjusted to online classes? How has going to the grocery store changed? Has anyone been infected or do they know someone who has been infected with COVID-19? What was that experience like? What do you miss most about the pre-pandemic world?”

The COVID-19 Collection is an opportunity for everyone impacted by the pandemic to be a primary source in documenting a unique time in people’s lives and in history, said Barbara Glackin, dean of Kent Library.

“Individual contributions of Southeast students, faculty, staff and community members to this collection will provide place-in-time, real-world perspectives on what happened and how we coped,” Glackin said. “As we move further away from 2020, these individual stories, images and narratives will provide firsthand accounts at what we experienced, what we thought and how we persevered through this challenge. The Collection will document a life-changing event for ourselves and future generations to learn about and learn from.”

Southeast faculty and staff used 3D printers and laser cutters to produce face shield for the local healthcare community on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The content was written and developed by Dunn and edited by Glackin. Kent Library Systems colleagues, Jason Bruenderman and Waleed Amer, built the webpage for the Archives which is hosted on the Kent Library website.

“The staff of Special Collections & Archives is hopeful that by creating this webpage for everyone in the Southeast community to deposit their stories of frustration, patience and innovation, we’ll help to create a pandemic archival collection for the future,” Dunn said. “People’s firsthand accounts of history as it happens to them will be preserved in the Archives and then shared publicly for scholars and researchers to use as they study this coronavirus pandemic. By depositing these stories, images, and videos with Special Collections & Archives through this webpage, people are helping to create a historical record for the future.”

For more information, contact Dunn at rdunn@semo.edu.

 

 

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