Portsmouth Public Library Creates Community Diary To Capture Local Pandemic Experience | New Hampshire Public Radio

Portsmouth Public Library Creates Community Diary To Capture Local Pandemic Experience

Apr 29, 2020

Credit Dan Tuohy/NHPR

Though the building is closed to the public, staff at the Portsmouth Public Library are continuing to collect public documents and newspaper articles to add to their archive – including those on COVID-19.

Now, the library wants to include the personal side of the pandemic in their collection.

They’re asking Seacoast residents to chronicle their pandemic experience through an online community diary.

“So we just ask people to tell a bit about their situation currently,” says Nicole Luongo Cloutier, reference and special collections supervisor at the library. “What’s happening whether they’re employed, remote learning, caring for loved ones, who they’re quarantined with, that sort of thing.”

The project launched earlier this week, and Luongo Cloutier says they’ve already received a couple of great diary entries and images from locals.

One shows a photograph of meatballs and reads, "This is a picture of meatballs that I cooked on Saturday afternoon. I spent most of that day prepping and preparing a meal for my partner and myself. But usually Saturdays were working days for us and we never had time together to enjoy them. I decided to treat my partner to nonna cooking, meatballs being one of my granny’s specialties."

“So people are getting back in touch with families, and thinking about past history and their heritage,” says Loungo Cloutier. “I’m hoping that it’s going to be a really great contribution to capturing this time in history.”

Soon, diary entries will be archived and uploaded to an open source database for public viewing. 

Similar diary projects are happening across the state. The Cheshire County Historical Society is collecting local stories via email, and the Monadnock Center for History and Culture is handing out physical journals to be collected once the pandemic is over.