NLB renews calls for submissions to document life under Covid-19 restrictions

SINGAPORE – With increased restrictions on mobility until June 13 brought about by the resurgence of coronavirus infections here, the National Library Board (NLB) is again calling for contributions to its Covid-19 collection.

Last May, together with the National Museum, it began an effort to collect and preserve records of people’s experiences of the pandemic, calling on the public to submit photos, narrative accounts, videos and other items that could be curated in an exhibition or stored for future researchers.

About 4,100 items have been submitted. Among them are three photos – of taped-up hawker centres, stacked-up chairs at a Toast Box outlet and queues for takeaway at a Din Tai Fung restaurant – which were put up on Facebook on Sunday (May 16).

“These photos a year ago captured a time when (dining in at eateries) was not allowed during the circuit breaker and phase one (safe reopening). Today, food deliveries and takeaways will once again become commonplace,”the NLB said.

“How has your life been impacted by the changes under phase two (heightened alert)? Send us your photos, videos, personal stories, blogs and diaries showing how the situation has affected you.”

In the period that began on May 16, dining in at restaurants and food centres has again been prohibited and people are allowed out with no more than one other person.

The Covid-19 clusters from Changi Airport and Tan Tock Seng Hospital have reawakened fears of yet another wave of the virus when many had thought Singapore was on a path to stable recovery.

The project, called Documenting Covid-19 In Singapore, has picked up items that have become commonplace now but were previously unheard of, such as lounge wear with formal tops suitable for Zoom office meetings.

It has also caught on to less-reported stories, like that of funeral director Gerlind Quek, whose blog post on the impact of the circuit breaker on her line of business and mental health was noticed by researchers at the NLB.

Ms Quek, 40, told The Straits Times: “I live alone, and during the circuit breaker, I was overwhelmed by the crowd at supermarkets. I tried to go at late hours but by then, there was nothing left. My only options were Deliveroo and instant food.”

She added, on the importance of having such accounts made public: “Singaporeans are still shy about mental health issues, and suicide cases are getting younger. I see a lot of these in the funeral industry.”

The National Archives of Singapore has so far recorded 76 in-depth interviews on the pandemic, 33 of which are available on its website. It wants to record 120 interviews in a two-year period.

Those interested in making submissions can do so at this link before June 30.

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