Bloomfield Library seeks to create historical archive of pandemic

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield Public Library is open only for curbside pickup as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but that’s not stopping the staff from working on new projects. The library, always ready to preserve a story, is creating an archive to document the pandemic and is asking Bloomfield residents to contribute. The collection will become a part of the local history archive and will be available for future viewing.

“Back in March when this first started, we realized it was going to be a historical event,” Lisa Cohn, the BPL’s librarian of programming, special collections and reference, said in a phone interview with the Independent Press on July 24. “We collect history, so we can do this.”

The library staff is looking for journals, photos, drawings and anything else that residents have used to document the months spent in quarantine and living in the age of the novel coronavirus. If it’s a larger art piece or sculpture, the library will take pictures of it. Even printouts of social media posts are accepted.

“It’s different experiences for everyone all experiencing the same event,” Cohn said. “We’re all going through it, but we all have our own perspectives.”

Materials can be submitted in any form, whether typed or handwritten. Residents who have questions about contributing can reach Cohn by email at lcohn@bplnj.org and can submit to the project by emailing ruby@bplnj.org.

The library provided prompts for residents to get started on a journal. These prompts are expected to be useful for chroniclers of all ages. The prompts include: “What experiences made the situation feel very real or surreal to you?” “What good things have happened?” “Describe your life right now.” “If you were telling this story to someone 100 years from now, what would you want them to know?”

According to Cohn, a few people have already contributed to the archive project, but she’s looking for more.

“Anyone who lost a loved one or a friend and wants to would be welcome,” Cohn said. “Essential workers would be interesting. It’s always worthwhile to see the same thing from different perspectives.”

The archive is mostly for future generations to look through and learn about the pandemic still raging today. BPL has a similar archive that was created chronicling Bloomfield experiences from World War II.

“The more you can read and listen the more you learn,” Cohn said. “This is longer term. Kids can look through it years from now and see, this is what Grandma was dealing with during the pandemic of 2020.”

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