Share your pandemic story for library’s local history collection

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 15, 2021

ROCHESTER — The Rochester Hills Public Library is working to document and preserve the community’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project, spearheaded by librarians Sue Walton, Hilary Maurin and Mary Vander Linde, involves collecting submissions from local students, families and Rochester-area residents that can be used by the greater community and future generations seeking insight into life during the pandemic.

“We have a local history collection here at the library, so we thought this would be a perfect time to get local history — since this is, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime event, where everybody shut down,” said Walton, a youth librarian. “Everybody has a story to tell, and I think it’s very important that people realize that they are important enough to tell a story and keep it for the future.”

People of all ages can submit photos, art, written journals, screenshots, home-school schedules and other materials through an online form at events.getlocalhop.com/do-you-have-a-pandemic-story/event/yi9bTFgVAr to be added to the library’s local history collection.

“However you want to tell your story, however you want to express yourself (is up to you). If you want to write a couple of paragraphs about what your life was like in 2020, if you want to draw a picture, or if you want to record a story or a video. ... I’m really looking for a wide range of formats and different people expressing themselves,” said Maurin, the library’s local history librarian. “We all went through something together — in a way — but we all had very different experiences with it, so I’m excited to see what people come up with and what kinds of stories our community has to share.”

Library staff said the submissions collected will be available to the public to use for educational purposes and may be used in presentations, publications and exhibitions, both physical and online.

Maurin said the pandemic stories will be “a really valuable resource for patrons in the future.”

“People in five years, 10 years, 20 years and beyond will be able to have access to personal stories of people in our community during the pandemic and what their lives were like,” she said. “The goal is to eventually add these stories to our local history archives and have them available online for people to access, to enjoy, and hopefully, learn from.”

For more information, contact the Rochester Hills Public Library at (248) 656-2900.