COVID-19 digital collection continues

By Raeghan Hilton

Youngstown State University students have the opportunity to share their pandemic experiences in the COVID Experience Collection.

The collection was created by Cassie Nespor, curator of the University Archives and Melnick Medical Museum, to gather personal experiences of students and staff on campus since the pandemic started. 

“[The COVID Experience Collection] was a project with professor Shelley Blundell, and I remember talking to her about that in the summer of 2020 but I think we actually used it in her spring 2021 class. So, her journalism students really helped get the word out about the collection and that we were collecting submissions and that we were targeting certain groups of students,” Nespor said.

Nespor said the job of the University Archives is to collect YSU’s history and make sure historical documents are saved — including digital collections. 

The COVID Experience Collection is not the only collection with pieces from the pandemic. Another collection, the COVID Response Collection, was created in April 2020 and includes digital pieces published by the university in response to the pandemic. 

“A lot of the stuff, since we were at home, being created for the pandemic was all digital files and I didn’t want to wait to make sure that we got those files from the departments later. I wanted to make sure that we had something, so I pretty quickly started thinking about how we were going to document this and save it,” Nespor said. 

The COVID Response Collection includes pieces like the COVID Dashboards, communications from the president and other regularly published updates from YSU. 

The COVID Experience Collection is still asking for submissions from anyone who wants to share their experience during the pandemic at YSU. However, none of these collections are currently available for public viewing.

“I wanted people to be open and, you know, feel confident about what they were putting out there. We wanted to wait for a period of time, these were collected sometimes pretty early in that pandemic experience, and so I didn’t [want to] sensationalize it or have people be shy about submitting how they felt and what they were struggling with,” Nespor said. 

There’s no specific formats required for submissions in the COVID Experience Collection, Nespor said. Students have submitted photos, artwork, interview recordings and shorter videos. 

Nespor said the University Archives is interested in submissions from specific groups of students such as student-athletes, international students, students with care responsibilities and students who lived on campus. 

“We haven’t had many submissions since last spring. I feel like people have kind of moved on. They may not want to think about it anymore. If people would like to submit, yeah, we can certainly use more submissions in the collection. Anything we can gather,” Nespor said. 

To submit a form to the COVID Experience Collection, visit the Maag Library website