Compared to harrowing scenes around the world, South Australia’s experience of COVID-19 has in some ways been a most welcome kind of anti-climax. There is still plenty of very real discomfort and uncertainty, but unlike other epoch-defining moments (World Wars, early-20th century pandemics, moon landings, or terrorist attacks) it’s a time more often marked by absence than big, noteworthy public moments to record in our diaries. Instead, we’re each living out millions of small, socially distanced COVID-19 experiences that are by definition private.
But although it might not feel particularly historic to spend this much time in pajamas, that doesn’t mean we won’t look back on this moment with great interest. Which is why last week the State Library of South Australia enlisted the public to add their lived experience of the pandemic to the creation of a COVID-19 collection.
“As the custodians of the state’s stories, and holder of the South Australiana Collections, we realised about three weeks ago that on a number of levels we need to capture what’s happening,” the State Library’s Neil Charter explains. “It is unprecedented in our lifetimes, something that generations in the future will look back on, and part of our role as the State Library is very much around preserving our identity as a state and allowing people to have that window into the culture of the time, and understanding how we lived and how we reacted to an event like a pandemic.”
Remember My Story – COVID-19 offers an online collection point for users to upload and submit photos, videos, text and audio for inclusion in the State Library’s digital collection.
“It’s interesting to see that people are becoming collectors by themselves, from historical groups to photographers who are capturing the pandemic mainly within their community or their circle,” he says. “So on a broad state level, this is a great opportunity to say ‘here’s a facility that you can actually contribute to’.