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A Unique Approach to Memorializing COVID-19 at the University of Chile


August 13, 2020 | 2 min read |

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting libraries worldwide and uncertainty lies ahead for many universities. While new personal, work, societal, and global issues continue to surface due to the pandemic, libraries are continuing to evaluate their approaches, discuss best practices, and prepare for new challenges.

One library is taking a different approach to COVID-19, seeing it as an opportunity to accumulate historical testimony and archive it for future education and academic research. The University of Chile is capitalizing on existing technology to collect and publish information on how different people are experiencing changes in their daily lives and activities, including remote learning, telecommuting, required social and physical distancing, extracurricular activities, and mandated restrictions.

The joint initiative led by the Department of Historical Sciences of the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities and the Directorate of Information Services and Libraries is openly soliciting individual COVID-19 stories through photographs, videos, letters, mobile texts, audio, and drawings. Visitors to a dedicated web page, developed through the library’s Primo discovery service, can access a simple Google form to make a submission or view other testimonials from others.

Universidad de Chile - Memoria COVID

What makes this initiative and process unique are the unified workflows available through the Primo and Alma services. Once an item is submitted, the form data is immediately converted to an XML file, then automatically loaded into Alma to create a bibliographic record linked to any associated digital objects, and then published to Primo in real time to be viewed by website visitors.

Despite the circumstances that the Directorate of Information Services and Libraries at the University of Chile may finds itself in due to the pandemic, this initiative demonstrates a forward-thinking, collaborative approach that will extend its impact beyond the borders of the traditional library and into the broader community. The library’s effort has garnered extensive attention in local media:

If you would like to share how your library responded to COVID-19, please contact us.