FRANKFORD — The novel coronavirus pandemic has led to a virtually unprecedented time in history, one the Sussex County Library System is hoping to encapsulate in the form of personal accounts from local residents.
Library officials are asking the public to submit stories of approximately 500 words documenting life in the COVID-19 age for future generations. All entries will be collected into a digital archive and potentially a book as well, depending on the amount of submissions.
Entries can come in a variety of forms, such as an essay about the changes in the world, a journal entry of a day in the life under quarantine or a letter to the writer’s future self.
According to Library Director Will Porter, the proposal to solicit first-hand accounts came from librarian Mary Grace Zaccaria as a way to preserve the experiences of living through such a unique time period.
“The idea was, at some point, this is going to be history,” Porter said. “We’d like (the compilation) to be accessible to people looking back on this time in the future.”
The library has already received several submissions since announcing the project April 23, Porter said. One entry, posted on the library system Facebook page, came from Leonard Pasculli, a Newton-based attorney who spoke of his love for baseball and desire to stay connected to America’s pastime amid the pandemic.
“During this COVID-19 shut-in, I have read and heard — as we all have, of course — about the deep disappointments felt by people who are not able to do that which would be natural at this time of year, such as spring breaks, vacations, and graduations,” Pasculli wrote. “For me, it’s baseball. No major league baseball games to attend or watch on television [except for the reruns], no fantasy baseball leagues, and barely (any) playing of baseball.”
In his favorite sport’s absence, Pasculli has kept himself occupied by reading baseball books that have accumulated on his shelf over the years. He noted that he always knew there would come a time where he would be able to sit down and pore over the books, and the extended quarantine has provided the perfect opportunity to do just that.
“I must admit, the contentment that I get by reading about baseball is at least for now helping me to find a little light in this murky landscape,” Pasculli wrote.
While library employees did not discuss a specific target of submissions it receives, Porter is hopeful that many local residents will soon follow Pasculli in deciding to share their stories.
“I do have the sense that everybody is looking for a large number of stories,” he said. “We’re trying to paint as broad a picture as possible.”
To submit a COVID-19 experience to the Sussex County Library System, email a digital copy to email@example.com or mail to: Local History Department, Sussex County Library, 125 Morris Turnpike, Newton, NJ 07860. Please include your name, age, town and a picture (optional).