Over the past year, archivists and librarians all over Maine have been collecting primary source materials related to their communities’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, these cultural heritage professionals formed the Maine Contemporary Archives Collaborative, a network that connects digital archives projects from across the state. To mark one year of COVID-19, members of the collaborative are sharing an online exhibit It’s Been a Year: Selections from Community Covid-Era Collections. This exhibit is part of the new Maine Contemporary Archives website https://ourmainearchives.omeka.net/.

The exhibit features artwork, photographs, writing, and recordings representing communities from Aroostook to York counties. The Maine Contemporary Archives Collaborative hopes this selection of items will inspire people to create and submit their own reflections and materials to the project in their area. Participating organizations will preserve and provide access to contributed materials so these can serve as primary source records for researchers, students, and community members into the future. Including diverse voices, experiences, and perspectives will help to create a more thorough representation of life in Maine during this historic time.

In addition to the exhibit, visitors to the Maine Contemporary Archives website can find information about participating institutions, browse sample items from the collections, and learn more about contributing as a community member or getting involved as an organization. Libraries of all types and sizes — as well as historical societies, museums, schools, and community organizations — are invited to join the collaborative effort. The website also offers educational resources, including lesson plans and a Life During COVID Scavenger Hunt, to engage students in learning about primary sources and documenting their own experiences.

Now that it has been a year since the pandemic shutdowns began, the Maine Contemporary Archives Collaborative wants to know: How are you looking ahead? What reflections, photos, videos, poetry, art, or other materials do you have that you’d like to contribute to our collections? Learn more about submitting to your local project here: https://ourmainearchives.omeka.net/share.

The mission of Maine Contemporary Archives is to foster collaboration to collect, preserve, and provide access to materials related to Maine community members’ experiences of current events. This project is a DigitalMaine initiative supported by the Maine State Library and made possible with Federal Cares Act-LSTA funds received from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information, contact us at https://ourmainearchives.omeka.net/contact.