LA Public Library is creating a coronavirus time capsule

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Mother's Day 2020 at the LA Flower Market. Photo by Gary Leonard, Safer at Home Archive, Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections.

The LA Public Library wants anything people have created during the pandemic, from journal entries to neighborhood signs. Their new Safer at Home Archive documents the pandemic with primary source materials. 

"We knew that this was something that we would regret not collecting,” says Suzanne Im, the LAPL’s digitization and special collections librarian. “And it's always better to collect when things are fresh, because what people remember isn't always the same."

Submissions will be curated and available in a digital collection accessible through their online special collections portal.

"We have artwork that's been created by children,” she says. “What children are thinking and feeling is really valuable, and it's something that's often missing in historical archives. But those items can be just as telling and powerful as the stories of adults."


A cartoon drawing of the COVID-19 virus by 5-year-old Shelby Potts. When LAUSD schools closed on March 13, 2020, Potts began reading books about pathogens and plagues. Over the past two months, he has drawn more than 100 pictures of different pathogens and says that he wants to be a vaccine researcher when he grows up. Photo by Shelby Potts, Safer at Home Archive, Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections.
"This item shows us what’s currently occurring on the streets of Los Angeles following the killing of George Floyd, while we are battling the coronavirus pandemic. I am a 9-year-old boy who views all this from either the news and social media. I have a McDonald’s logo in the background because I love going there to bu [sic] my fries, however it’s best to stay at home with all that’s going on and a curfew that the state has now put in place." Photo by Nathan Garcia, Safer at Home Archive, Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections.


"The parks closed and all we could find to take our children to were vacant parking lots. When there weren't playground toys to climb on, we had to be creative. This is our boy, Mitch (4), running to and from his mom. Mitch is from the city of Wuhan, China, where the pandemic started. We adopted him from there just a few years before all of this happened." Photo by Jenny Januszewski, Safer at Home Archive, Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections.
"This photo shows no traffic on Highway 101 through downtown and the lack of smog that usually blankets the city. This is one of the clearest days in LA in modern history." Photo by Jeff Thurlow, Safer at Home Archive, Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections.
Empty Santa Fe Springs drive-in theatre, that is normally teeming with people in its swapmeet. Photo by Larry Salazar, Safer at Home Archive, Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections.  
A photo collage of a West Hollywood couple's interactions with neighbors and friends from their balcony. Photo by Retha Petruzates-Spencer, Safer at Home Archive, Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections.
Credits

Guest:
Suzanne Im - Los Angeles Public Library

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Kathryn Barnes