The CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies is collecting personal stories and images that show how Arkansans are spending their days during the covid-19 pandemic.
An email sent Monday to patrons of the Central Arkansas Library System likens the current crisis to the pandemic flu of 1918. Today's pandemic is also a historic event, the email states, and future generations will want to know how people's lives were affected and how they passed time in social isolation.
"The CALS Butler Center encourages members of our Central Arkansas community to document their experiences during this time of crisis," the email continues. "We are looking for diaries, photographs, poetry, oral history interviews, artwork, video, etc."
Brian Robertson, manager of the Research Services Division and chief archivist at the Central Arkansas Library System's Roberts Library, organized the appeal for submissions.
"There won't be an immediate display, but we'd like to get at least a selection of the material posted online relatively quickly," he said Monday. "Of course that assumes we get material."
Donors can upload their material online at robertslibrary.org.
The portal includes two ways to participate. "Submit Your Story" is a questionnaire. Participants do not have to identify themselves by name to answer questions such as "In 100 years what do you want people to know about what is happening today?"
"Submit Your Media" lets donors upload up to 10 items. It does require a participant's full name and email address. It asks donors to agree or decline the statement, "The photographer/videographer/creator grants the Central Arkansas Library System the rights to archive, display, and provide access to these files/images/videos in whole or in part, at CALS's discretion."
Robertson says agreeing does not mean the donors relinquish their own rights to their submissions. "People will still be able to do as they wish with their material," he said.
If someone else created a submitted photo or image, donors must state that person's name, too. Robertson says donors will not necessarily have to demonstrate that they own copyright to the material to make a submission, "but that would be the preference."