Want to document 2020? Book it to the library

The Special Collections and Archives Department is accepting donations of historical materials from the Cal Poly Pomona and Pomona Valley communities to document 2020. Students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members are encouraged to donate materials to support future researchers and students.

The department, a division within the University Library, aims to document and archive monumental events that occurred in 2020 — such as the pandemic and social justice protests — using primary sources provided by the community.

Head of Special Collections and Archives Katie Richardson and her unit is putting the project into action.

“One of the things that we see that really resonates with our students is hearing from other students,” Richardson said. “If those experiences can be captured, then that would be great.”

The department is looking for primary sources, both digital and physical, such as photographs, journal entries, blog posts, audio and video recordings. All materials must be original to the person submitting the content.

Once the department gathers enough donations for the collection, they plan to organize, preserve and make the materials accessible through an online exhibit.

Physical materials will be preserved by being placed into acid-free boxes while folders are kept in climate-controlled storage spaces. Digital materials are being organized using a finding aid, an accessible online tool that comprises an index and detailed descriptions of the inventory.

Pat Hawthorne, dean of the library, hopes to take this project a step further by eventually creating an in-person exhibition.

“My hope is that in addition to the digital exhibits which makes them very accessible, at some point when we’re back on campus we might be able to do an event to showcase some of the donations and actually allow the individuals to be able to meet with the campus community,” Hawthorne said.

According to Richardson, community members have begun submitting their materials for the project. Some people are also donating creative items including a book about the pandemic.

Fourth-year psychology student Syed Uddin shared that she would like to see documentation relating to the protests, saying that it would be a crucial addition to this project. “On the internet, I saw someone showing off the camera they used at a protest. It was all damaged with remnants of tear gas on it,” said Uddin.

With 2020 also being an election year, third-year psychology student Karina Camarena hopes to see this year’s political agenda documented. “Politics have taken a really odd turn this year, and I think it should be remembered,” Camarena said. “A digital copy of the recent presidential debate should be put in the archive. That’s definitely something we should be holding on to.”

Digital materials can be submitted through a submission form on the library’s website at https://libguides.library.cpp.edu/documenting2020. To arrange an appointment to drop off non-digital materials, contact Katie Richardson at kjrichardson@cpp.edu.

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