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Queen’s University Archives collecting COVID-19 material for future research

Queen's University is collecting archival information on the local response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Queen's University is collecting archival information on the local response to the coronavirus pandemic. Jennifer Basa / Global News

Staff at the Queen’s University Archives are beginning to collect digital material relating to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a collaborative effort to archive its impact on the campus and the Kingston community.

At a time when things are changing so quickly, some archivists are trying to capture moments in time before they pass us by.

Staff from the Queen’s University Archives are working collaboratively with other institutions, such as the Kingston Frontenac Library, the City of Kingston and the Archives of Ontario, to collect digital records, including medical research, findings and articles that have been published during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Kingston political, academic, economic forces team up to guide organizations through COVID-19

“What we are collecting are the web presence of local health authorities, local governments, of institutions such as Queen’s University to gauge what their response has been over time to the pandemic,” says Jeremy Heil, a digital archivist from Queen’s University.

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This is all in an effort to preserve this information for researchers to use in the future.

“Health-care workers, maybe pandemic experts, will want to look at local responses and to see what worked in certain jurisdictions and what didn’t work, and we want to be able to provide that record,” Heil said.

Despite Kingston being one of the few cities that has had a low number of COVID-19 cases, the deadly virus that causes it has had an impact on the entire community.

“There’s a lot of really interesting stories that are coming out of this, and it’s affected everyone,” Heil says.

“It’s the same thing when we are looking back at the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. People now look to the archives.”

READ MORE: Ontario reports 294 coronavirus cases, marking lowest increase since late March

Once the pandemic comes to an end, Heil says the Queen’s University Archives may begin to gather other pieces of material to add to its COVID-19 archive once it is safe to do so.

The archive will be open to the public once more web materials are gathered to begin the process of storing COVID-19-related archival information.

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