Kalamazoo Library Preserves Pandemic History

May 12, 2020

A view of the main Kalamazoo Public Library branch
Credit Andy Robins / WMUK

The Kalamazoo Public Library wants to know how you're experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's begun a program to collect oral histories and photographs while the crisis is still going. Ryan Gage is the library's local history manager.

"Different members of our community are being impacted differently. And so, we hope that we can obtain through our submission form some really unique perspectives and points of view from every member of the community on how the pandemic is affecting them."

Gage says it's already getting some material.

"We have had some community members submit a few photos as well as poems and general feelings, what we would characterize as oral history submissions: feelings about how their life has been impacted.”

The pandemic is still underway. But Gage says it's important to begin documenting it now.

"Oftentimes, peoples' memories fade, they forget things, or they consciously move on as things get better. And that's why we're really trying to get out there now and make sure that we are creating strategies so that we can collect these kinds of memories and these materials."

They can be submitted to the Kalamazoo Public Library's Local History program online.

Gage says some of the material will be featured on the KPL Local History website. And he says the library will make it available to scholars in the future who want to learn what people today thought and did about the crisis.