Sonoma County Library Invites Locals to Share Covid Memories

In September of 2020, Sonoma County Library launched Sonoma Responds: A Community Memory Archive, inviting Sonoma County residents to share their stories and preserving these memories in an online archive, the Sonoma Responds community collection, 2020-2021.

The collection preserves a local historical record of living through Covid-19 and the past year’s events such as the Black Lives Matter movement, wildfires, the most recent presidential election, and everyday life.

By sharing and preserving these stories in the archive, the library gives the North Bay a place to collectively reflect on the past years’ experiences while building a record of life in the new age of social distancing.

This summer, the library will conclude collecting digital submissions on August 31, 2021. Community members are encouraged to share their memories and experiences, both in English and in Spanish, on the library’s online portal before time runs out.

“The stories we leave behind will shape the way future generations understand this period in history. All of us have a story to tell,” says Zayda Delgado, Special
Collections Librarian and one of the project leads, in a statement.

Digital submissions of all types are welcome, including anonymous submissions. The Sonoma Responds project is accepting images, videos, audio recordings and writings, as well as other online content for the web archive and materials and objects for the physical archive.

Already, the Sonoma Responds archive has collected photographs, videos, letters, zines, signs, blog and social media posts, and creative works such as novels, poetry and drawings, even an album of coronavirus-related songs.

Recently, the California Library Association recognized Sonoma Responds with ‘Best in Show’ at the PRExcellence Awards, stating it was “a timely and meaningful project for this unusual time.”

The library’s efforts to preserve this material is part of the Internet Archive’s Community Webs program, which supports public libraries around the country in building and maintaining web archives that reflect local culture and events.

Through a collaboration with Sonoma State University’s Center for Community
Engagement, the library is also archiving over 600 student submissions. A broad range of classes including communications, education, history, chemistry, nursing, psychology and sociology participated in this initiative.

“At a time when community-based work was slowing down, we expanded, and students in over 40 service-learning classes were able to contribute to the historical record about their experiences during covid, the racial justice movement, the election, and the fires,” says Merith Weisman, Director of Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, in a statement.

The archive is online now in the Sonoma County Library’s digital collections. To tell your story and become part of the historical record, visit sonomalibrary.org/sonoma-responds-community-archive.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
Sonoma County Library
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