The Queens Memory COVID-19 Project Seeks to Collect Personal Stories About Life at the Epicenter of the Pandemic
Queens Residents Can Contribute Stories of How They Live, Work, Learn, and Help One Another During This Unprecedented Time
Queens, NY (April 17, 2020)—Queens Memory—a community archiving program supported by Queens Public Library and the Queens College Library—today announced the launch of the COVID-19 Project. This borough-wide campaign, created in partnership with technology nonprofit Urban Archive, will be collecting personal stories about life at the epicenter of the pandemic.
As conditions are changing rapidly around the world, the project aims to reconstruct the state of mind and reality people experience from one day to the next, making a lasting record of how we are living, working, learning, and helping one another in Queens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants can contribute stories in a variety of formats, including phoned-in audio testimonies using a toll-free number (855-QNS-LOVE), photo and written submissions through Urban Archive, and long-form remote interviews conducted by Queens Memory staff and volunteers.
“Queens remains the epicenter of the pandemic in New York City, with many residents working on the front lines and providing essential services to community members. The stories they are sharing with us today will be an invaluable resource to those in the future trying to understand this turbulent time in world history,” said Natalie Milbrodt, QPL’s Coordinator of Metadata Services and the founding Director of the Queens Memory Project. “We are very fortunate to be working with our colleagues at Queens College and Urban Archive as well as with talented volunteers across the city who are helping us with this ambitious project.”
“It’s important to document this period in time for the sake of history. The Queens College Library is proud to partner with the Queens Public Library and Urban Archive to create a permanent record of life during the pandemic that will benefit researchers for years to come," said Kristin Hart, Chief Librarian at the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library. “In addition to collaborating on the borough-wide outreach campaign, our archivists have sprung into action to record interviews with diverse members of the Queens College community who have their own unique stories to tell.”
Interviewees from Queens College thus far include President-Designate Frank H. Wu, the first person of Asian American descent to be appointed Queens College president; Distinguished Professor of Sociology Samuel Heilman, a leading authority on Orthodox Judaism and among the first persons affected by the spread of the pandemic in New York; and Lecturer in Italian Nicola Lucchi, of the Department of European Languages and Literatures, whose family hails from Italy’s Lombardy region, the area most severely affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in that country.
“The heart of this project is to record and reflect on the real-time impact of life at center of the pandemic in a city that influences the world,” said Sam Addeo, Director of Community and Development at Urban Archive. “Urban Archive is honored to be a part of this project, not only supporting Queens institutions, but residents themselves who have the opportunity through this work to share their stories and uplift their neighbors during this challenging time.”
Submissions will become part of the Queens Memory digital collections at QPL and the Queens College Library and will be shared through the Urban Archive platform.
The archival products of these efforts will be available in full to researchers online thanks to a team of remote metadata librarians. The team will also produce the next season of the Queens Memory Podcast with 10 episodes featuring interviews gathered over 10 weeks of their active outreach campaign.
For more information and to submit stories, please go here.
About Queens Public Library
Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded in 1896, Queens Public Library offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in multiple languages, technology and digital resources, and more than 87,500 educational, cultural, and civic programs a year. It consists of 66 locations, including branch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology lab, two universal pre-kindergartens, and two teen centers.
About Queens College
Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its nearly 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors, and performers who have received over 100 Grammy Awards and nominations. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college has been cited for 28 consecutive years as a Princeton Review “Best College,” as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report “Best College” and Forbes Magazine “Best Value College,” thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit their homepage to learn more.
The Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library at Queens College aims to make information and ideas understandable and accessible to all members of the college community. It contains over 800,000 books and provides access to thousands of electronic journals and other digital resources. There are spaces for classes and special events, individual and group study, and research and technology support is available to all students and faculty. Rosenthal Library is also home to the Queens College Makerspace, Queens College Archives, and the Louis Armstrong Archives. The library’s Master Space Plan outlines new and exciting developments to come.
About Urban Archive
Urban Archive is a technology nonprofit that promotes historical research and discovery. Our mission is to extend the reach of cultural organizations by providing them with collaborative tools to share local history. To connect with Urban Archive, follow @UrbanArchiveNY on Instagram and Twitter and launch the Urban Archive app, available for free in the App Store. For more information please visit urbanarchive.nyc.