Stephanie Katz
May 1 · 3 min read

Libraries Publish Patron Writing During COVID-19 Pandemic

person sitting at laptop
person sitting at laptop
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

While the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered most libraries brick and mortar locations, librarians have remained hard at work helping patrons remotely. A handful of libraries are publishing patron writing and art. Many people are feeling a complex and sometimes overwhelming stress from the pandemic, and writing and art are great ways to discharge stress, process feelings, and promote psychological healing. By inspiring patrons to write and creating a platform for patrons to be published, libraries are supporting the emotional health of their communities during this difficult time. Writing and art creating during this time need not be perfect, and each of the following libraries encourages submitters to send in work that’s from the heart.

Quaranzine, Arlington Public Library

Arlington Public Library in Arlington, Virginia has published four issues of Quaranzine, a weekly, online zine of “creative works from the Arlington community that documents how we responded to this strange time we find ourselves in.” Writers can submit art, essays, poetry, fiction, articles, tutorials, photos, comics, and even recipes to the publication. All prose must be 500 words or less. The first issue featured short work by library staff, including poems, craft ideas, and short comics.

My Home Library, Manatee Libraries

Manatee County Public Library System in Bradenton, Florida is publishing a My Home Library blog series through the library’s literary magazines, 805 Lit + Art. Posts in the series are written by staff, volunteers, and members of the community so people can help people “show off their home libraries, find comfort in books, and feel a connection to the library” while library locations are closed during the pandemic. Writers of all ages can submit photo and an essay or poem of up to 1,00 words about their personal collection of books, ebooks, movies, albums, or video games.

Living History Fair at Chicago Public Library Dunning Branch

The Dunning Branch of the Chicago Public Library in Illinois hosted a Living History Fair for students with cash prizes for winners in four grade groupings: Pre-K to second grade, third to fifth grade, six to eighth grade, and ninth to twelfth grade. Entries can be in a variety of formats including essay, poem, story, song, drawing, comic, or video. The four winners will be announced May 15th and each receive a prize of $50 sponsored by three members of the Illinois General Assembly.

Coronavirus: Archive Your Story, Herman B Wells Library

The Herman B Wells Library at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana is collecting diaries from residents of Monroe County and others affiliated with Indiana University for their Coronavirus: Archive Your Story project. They are archiving the diaries of regular people because “all of our lives have been reshaped the last few weeks due to the current pandemic, historians of the future will want to know how that looked and felt.” Writers can submit their typed or handwritten diary as well as photos, videos, or audio clips.

The Wells Library encourages writers outside of Monroe County to submit diaries to the Indiana Historical Society’s Telling Your Story: Documenting COVID-19 in Indiana initiative to document the Hoosier experience during the pandemic.

Many other academic libraries are archiving citizens’ personal experiences during the pandemic, including the libraries as Michigan State University, Iowa State University, and Penn State University.

National Short Story Writing Challenge, Ghana Library Authority

The Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) is hosting a National Short Story Writing Challenge open to children 9 to 18 who reside in Ghana. With the contest, the GhLA hopes to “inspire young writers nationwide to showcase their creative and critical thinking skills” and “engage children during partial lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.”

A first place winner of the writing contest and two runners up will win a cash prize of GHC1000, GHC500, and GHC300 respectively. The winning stories will be published in the Ghana Library App. The contest closed May 10th.

Are you publishing your patrons during the pandemic? Tell us at literarylibraries@gmail.com.

Literary Libraries

A free association and resource for libraries engaged in…

Stephanie Katz

Written by

Librarian. Editor. Writer.

Literary Libraries

A free association and resource for libraries engaged in creative publishing.

Stephanie Katz

Written by

Librarian. Editor. Writer.

Literary Libraries

A free association and resource for libraries engaged in creative publishing.

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