Launched on Friday, Remember My Story – COVID-19 invites members of the public to upload photos, videos, audio files, illustrations and/or written documents showing changes to their home life, workplace and leisure activities. The material can be shared either through a Facebook page, or via a portal on the library’s Digital Collections platform.
Neil Charter, the library’s team leader marketing, says Remember My Story will create “a snapshot of the state in this moment in time”.
“The State Library is the story collector and teller of the state and we’ve done that basically since South Australia was founded and the library was established,” he says.
“Underneath the State Library there’s a basement with about 60 kilometres of shelving that contains photographic and written documents and ephemera that captures the history of the life of the state.
“By capturing such events as COVID-19, in generations to come we will be able to offer a glimpse of our state and culture and how people adapted their lives to it.”
Material shared via the Digital Collections platform will be considered as part of a future COVID-19 collection.
Charter says it could potentially form the basis of an exhibition or education programs in years to come, and will be accessible to people such as historians, sociologists and writers.
“It won’t just sit on a dusty shelf somewhere. This will be worked up into a collection and in the future there might be an exhibition out of it… people are fascinated by the human response of others.”
In Australia, COVID-19 has highlighted the value of strong communities, and it was clear from the early stages of the pandemic that people were keen to share photos and comments on social media showing how they and others were adapting and responding to social isolation and physical distancing.
On the Remember My Story platforms, South Australians have so far uploaded photos and stories illustrating ANZAC Day “Driveway at Dawn” tributes, chalk messages on suburban streets, working from home, Zoom ballet classes, “viral art”, CBD bars and restaurants that have closed or adapted to takeaway only, and social distancing signage.
The platform also suggests numerous other topics that material might illustrate, including Centrelink queues, interstate border crossings, home schooling, livestreaming, baking, home projects, drive-by birthday celebrations, security at supermarkets, COVID-19 cleaning protocols and medical services.
State Library director Geoff Strempel says the ability to collect material digitally has provided the library with a “massive opportunity” to build and preserve its collection with greater immediacy.
“In such a short timeframe our worlds have changed very quickly, and in quite unexpected ways,” he says of the current pandemic.
“Our identity as a state has been revealed in our willingness to adapt, connect, help others and meet the challenges of COVID-19. As a memory institution we want to capture this, as it will be our legacy for future generations to learn from.”
You can share your COVID-19 story through the Digital Collections portal here, or via the Remember My Story Facebook page.