By Inayah Hakeem
Many can admit that it has been a very strange time in our world during the past month due to the COVID-19 virus and the government issued stay-at-home order. One of the many side effects has been the displacement of millions of employees worldwide, an excess of free time, and the obligation to stay indoors.
The Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) staff have experienced these repercussions first hand. All GRPL branches have been closed since March 14 and they ask the community’s help to document this unusual time in our history.
Julie Tabberer, head of Grand Rapids History & Special Collections at GRPL, shared a bit of this displacement when asked about the ways quarantine has affected her life.
“I’m experiencing the effects of quarantine on my own life and am also very aware of all the ways that I am privileged in this moment,” she said. “We are all going through this together, yet our situations are different. It’s important to hear from a wide variety of people in Grand Rapids, to provide a fuller picture of what the pandemic means.”
Mindful of the effects of displacement and isolation, the GRPL team has created a way to document these tough times by creating a story submission project on how the COVID-19 virus is impacting communities around Grand Rapids. This will create a shared memory documentation that will become part of a permanent archival collection serving as record.
Tabberer said she believes the story submission project will have great historical value for Grand Rapids.
“Our lives suddenly changed really dramatically and significantly,” she said. “This is a moment in time that future generations are going to study and learn about. They’re going to wonder: what was it like to live through the pandemic? By submitting your story, you can share that perspective – what’s challenging right now, what are you struggling with? On the other hand, what’s been positive or what have you come to appreciate?”