Maine Libraries Collaborate to Collect and Share COVID-19 Stories from their Communities

In an effort to document and preserve stories of how COVID-19 has reshaped the lives of Maine people during the global pandemic, a number of Maine libraries are working together on an unprecedented archiving project that will be made available online and preserved for access by future generations.

The project was made possible with Federal CARES Act funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and involves creation of a web platform at the Maine State Library that can be used by libraries throughout the state to host and publish collections that depict the impact of COVID-19 on the people of their communities.

"We are living in an unusual time where nearly every aspect of daily life has changed in some way due to COVID-19," said Janet McKenney, Director of Library Development for the Maine State Library. The work we are doing will allow people throughout Maine to submit written stories, poems, photos, artwork and audio files about how the pandemic has affected them so that the content can be shared with others and kept for future generations.

Over the last several months, the participating libraries have been working together to share expertise, create documentation around best practices and develop a resource guide for other libraries. Greta Schroeder, Director of the Thompson Free Memorial Library who leads this collaborative remarked, This is a great opportunity for librarians across the state to work together as we build digital archives that are community-based and connected through a shared platform. This collaboration advances an essential service of public libraries, the preservation of local history. We encourage other libraries and cultural heritage organizations to join us and look forward to seeing the stories and materials that community members share.

Current participating libraries and their projects include:

  • Heart of Maine Community Stories - A collaboration between Hartland Public Library, Newport Cultural Center, Pittsfield Public Library, Skowhegan Free Public Library, and Thompson Free Library (Dover-Foxcroft) to document life in Central Maine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Isolating Together Portland Public Library is inviting those across the greater Portland area to communicate how you are living with the present social distancing measures and although we may now be physically distant, let us remain socially connected amidst this time of isolating during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Biddeford COVID-19 Community Archive - The Archive is a joint project of the McArthur Public Library, the Biddeford Cultural & Heritage Center and the Biddeford Historical Society that will document life in Biddeford during the COVID-19 pandemic. Community members submit stories, images, oral history interviews, and videos to the archive.
  • How's Your week Going? The Patten Free Public Library in Bath invites those who live, work, or feel at home in Sagadahoc County to share stories about how the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting you and your community.
  • Ogunquit Memorial Librarys COVID-19 Archive The Ogunquit Memorial Library invites members of the Ogunquit community to tell their COVID-19 story. The pandemic is affecting local culture and tourism in unprecedented ways; this project lets us document these experiences.
  • Bangor Covid-19 Community Archives Project - Patrons and community members are invited to submit Pandemic Postcards to be exhibited virtually and in the library in September. Covid-19 stories are also being collected and shared along with exhibits of historic collections relating to earlier pandemics.
  • Fort Fairfield has recently added a SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) Community Impact collection to their existing archive.

Sites are also being developed by Lewiston Public Library, West Paris Public Library and the University of Maine at Augusta. Check for new sites at the Maine State Librarys Hub site.

Beyond the libraries in this project, many colleges and universities are also documenting the impact of the virus on their campus communities. The University of Maine has a COVID-19 Community Archive in Digital Commons.

Follow all these libraries on Facebook at Maine during Covid-19: Our Communities and Archives.

This is just one of the many initiatives for libraries throughout the state of Maine that are having positive impact in Maine communities. More information about these CARES ACT grant programs is available at the Maine State Librarys website.

For more information contact Janet McKenney, Director of Library Development at the Maine State Library ( or Greta Schroeder, Thompson Free Library, the Collaboration Coordinator (