Community & Environment

Library collects COVID-19 experiences to capture history in the making

Hamilton City Libraries is collecting stories from the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure our community’s personal experiences are recorded for future generations.

Libraries Director Stephen Pennruscoe says the stories will become part of the archive Hamilton City Libraries maintains on behalf of the community.

The community archive holds records donated or loaned by local clubs, societies, businesses and individuals, such as letters, diaries, minute books, photographs and scrapbooks. All items in the archives can be viewed by the public.

“The social history of Hamilton can be traced through the community archive. It’s important we document not just events in the life of the city but also what they mean for people personally – how they reacted and how they were affected,” says Mr Pennruscoe.

“These highly personal and individual stories bring the history of a community to life for future generations.”

The process of documenting Hamiltonians’ experience of COVID-19 will be ongoing, but items received by 28 August will be included in an exhibition at the Central Library in Garden Place. The collection will also be on digital display through the Hamilton City Libraries website.

The libraries have created a teddy bear template for children to record their stories of life during the pandemic, which can be downloaded from hamiltonlibraries.co.nz/heritage/lockdown-stories.

Drawings, paintings and diaries are also welcome – the team have even received a family newspaper published by one creative kid. Items can be dropped off in person or emailed to heritage@hcc.govt.nz.

Heritage librarian Deborah Fitz-Herbert, who had the idea of putting the call out for COVID-19 stories, says children’s voices are under-represented in the community archive.

“Kids describe what’s happening around them differently from adults, but their memories are just as relevant. They help to tell the whole story of a community – in this case one that is living through history in the making.”

The COVID-19 stories initiative is not limited to children. Anyone who wants to share their story can send it to the team at heritage@hcc.govt.nz.

The Heritage team is also recording COVID-19 oral histories for the archive so the voices of Hamiltonians are captured as well as their memories.

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