Everyone’s story is important: Page Library aims to create record of life during the pandemic

Page Public Library is looking for people from all walks of life to tell stories about their experiences during the COVID pandemic. The stories will be recorded on audio files and archived, with the aim of creating a record of how COVID affected day-to-day life in Page and the surrounding region. 

Participants in the Page Pandemic Stories project are invited to talk about any pandemic-related experiences they feel are important, such as personal reflections on families and parenting, education and cultural institutions, work and business, essential workers, life in quarantine, health care and hospitals, trauma and mourning, the recession, mutual aid, art and literature, and community organizations.

The audio stories that are collected “will document the experiences of people from all walks of life, in their own words,” according to a statement from the library. “The Page Public Library is committed to preserving and making accessible the stories that shape our history so that people today, along with future generations, can better understand our world and each other.”

For those thinking about stories to submit, the library suggests focusing on the experiences and emotions that are closest to the storyteller: “This could be describing your experience in isolation while you were waiting out your mild symptoms or worries you may have with family members and loved ones. They could also encompass something as basic as going to the grocery store with masks, gloves and hand sanitizer ready to go. These projects encourage people to keep a record of their thoughts, feelings and observations.” 

When the project is complete, the Page Pandemic Stories collection will be made accessible to the public. The project is supported by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

Debbie Winlock, the manager of Page public Library, said the project will allow younger generations to hear the voices of their loved ones while also keeping their stories intact.

“How many of us like to hear stories from our parents and our grandparents, and we often tell them to our children, but when it goes from generation to generation, we lose some of the information,” she said. “The idea is to collect all these great stories, sad stories, even happy stories, because during the pandemic some families got together more and were seeing each other more.” 

Winlock emphasized that the library would like to collect stories from people from all walks of life, as every story will add something important to the overall history of the pandemic. The goal is to collect as many unique stories as possible, with people talking in their own words about what they experienced during the COVID era. 

“What was it like to go to school online here? What was it like to be shut inside and separated from everybody? How did you feel not having a prom or graduation? These are questions we would like to hear,” Winlock said.

“A lot of people don’t think their knowledge or experience of history is important, but it is, especially in our rural area. We want people to know, hey, this is what happened in Page, this is what happened in our community and surrounding area. To tell the story of our rural community is so important. We all lived this time together and apart from each other. So, it would be nice to hear from businesses, from families, from anybody in the community.”

People can record stories on their own using their own equipment or even their phone, as long as it’s good quality with no noise in the background, or they can set up an appointment and record it at the library. Staff will also arrange to visit homes of elders who want to tell stories but are unable to travel to the library. 

“We’re willing to help anybody that wants to tell a story,” Winlock said.  

Digital files of audio recording up to 25 megabytes in size (about 25 minutes long) will be accepted. 

The audio recordings will be saved by the library and eventually be made available to the public online as well as at a dedicated computer at the Page Public Library. People who share their stories will also be given a thumb drive or CD – whichever they prefer – with their story recording on it so they have their own personal copy. 

Although the project is focused on audio recordings, Winlock said the library is considering collecting videos as well. They will also accept digital photographs.

“We will accept photos to put into our collection. I think that would be great because sometimes photos say more than words,” she said.  

The library plans on collecting recordings for the Page Pandemic Stories project for about a year from now. Anyone interested in sharing their story for the project can contact Page Public Library at 928-645-4270.

Video News