Arlington’s COVID-19 Archive Tells the Story of the Past Year and a Half

A year after Robbins Library unveiled Arlington’s COVID-19 Archive on its “Local History Resources” page, the collection has become a true snapshot of life in Arlington during this unique period in our history. Today, the collection continues to grow with 110 images, videos, poems, and other works documenting life during the pandemic. To mark the anniversary of the archive’s launch, community members are again invited to contribute  to this rich multi-media scrapbook.  

In March 2020 as schools and workplaces closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the Robbins Library recognized a need to begin documenting life during this period.  A submission tool for community members to share digital files was created last summer and in July 2020, the library began reaching out to community leaders to solicit contributions. .  Arlington’s COVID-19 Community Archive went live on the Robbins Library website in September, 2020.  

The earliest image in the collection is a photo of a March 9, 2020 press conference with national and regional news media interviewing Christine Bongiorno, Health and Human Services Director.  Images like the photo titled “Arlington Service Station Raises Sign of Hope and Thanks” capture the spirit of community compassion and care in Arlington during the early days of the pandemic. Other images show the changes Arlingtonians faced as businesses, schools, and community organizations adapted to mask mandates and social distancing protocols.  

Artists and writers in the community drew inspiration from the pandemic and the archive includes original works of art reflecting the period.  Local artist Nilou Moochhala included images from her work “The Virus Series,” and poet Jacob Bloom’s “Coronavirus Corona” is a cycle of fifteen sonnets about the virus.  

Community members are invited to view the archive, available on the Robbins Library website, and contribute. Anna Litten, Assistant Director of Libraries says, “We hope that seeing the fantastic works in the archive will inspire community members. Eighteen months into our changed lives, it’s a great time to look through your camera roll or diaries to find pieces that represent your unique experience.” 

Library staff intend for this archive to be a tool for residents and researchers curious about life in Arlington during COVID-19 for years to come. Any document that reflects life in Arlington during the pandemic is considered for submission. Library staff encourage a diverse range of material including diaries, journals, essays, art work, amateur photos captured on cell phones, videos, and other documents. Anyone who would like to submit files can do so by visiting the archive on the Local History Resources page at robbinslibrary.org

Contact Anna Litten at alitten@minlib.net or 781-316-3202 with questions about the archive or submissions.  

The COVID-19 archive includes photos, documents, videos, and other files

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