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Stony Brook University

Documenting COVID-19: Stony Brook University Experiences

A Guide to the Special Library Collecting Initiative and Related Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I access the webpage for “Documenting COVID-19: Stony Brook University Experiences,” the digital collection, and related resources?
The URL is:
On this webpage, you can browse and explore narratives, photographs, and more content created by and collected from the SBU community along with information about this collecting project and related resources.

What was the project timeline?
Submissions were received from September 2020 to June 30, 2021.

What was the deadline for submissions?
The deadline to volunteer to be interviewed for an oral history was Friday, May 14, 2021. The deadline to submit narratives or digital items to the archive was Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

The project ended on June 30, 2021, but can I still submit items?
Please contact Kristen J. Nyitray ( and Dana Reijerkerk (

I am an instructor and want my students to use the digital collection. How do I do this?
Instructors can help ensure students learn about Stony Brook experiences and history by integrating the digital collection in course syllabi and assignments. Please consult our guide about course integration.

Are there other COVID-19 documentation projects at SBU and can I still contribute to them?
Yes. One example is ​"Narratives of COVID-19,​"​ a student-managed blog part of the Program in Writing​ ​and Rhetoric’s RhetComp, a platform for Stony Brook University students to promote​ ​their own writing. Contact the individual projects for information as to whether they are still accepting items. 

What was submitted to the collection?
The Stony Brook University community contributed personal narratives, oral histories, and original digital items that represented and documented the SBU experience during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 to June 30, 2021. 

Why was the collection developed?
It was vital to preserve the institutional history of this unprecedented event including SBU’s integral and pivotal role in the regional response to the crisis, its contributions to research initiatives in global contexts, and the shift to remote learning and instruction. 

What types of material were collected? 
SBUL collected digital materials created by the SBU community specifically in response to COVID-19 pandemic. Examples included:

  • digital photographs of daily life 

  • personal stories

  • journal entries

  • screenshots of social media posts 

  • videos (under 10 minutes)

  • links to webpages or online resources (URLs)

  • coursework or research projects 

  • literary and creative works

  • descriptions of remote learning experience or how classes changed when they went virtual.

What types of material were not collected?

  • content that is licensed and/or not open access 

  • copyrighted or unoriginal content

  • YouTube videos

  • webpages

  • personally identifiable health information

  • medical records

  • physical artifacts

  • student records

Were physical materials collected?
Physical materials were not collected. 

Were copyrighted materials collected?
SBUL is obligated to abide by copyright law and all submissions were assessed on a case-by-case basis. In special circumstances, it created a catalog record and link to the web content rather than storing the file in our digital repository. 

Could I submit something that I did not create?
SBUL only accepted files from the creator. It considered links (e.g. YouTube video) if the submitter was not the creator. A co-creator could submit an item, but to add the content, SBUL needed permission from all creators. SBUL requested all creators to fill out the submission form, too. If SBUL did not receive releases from all participants, it could not keep the materials. 

What file formats were accepted? 
JPG, TIFF, PNG, PDF, AVI, MOV, MP3, MP4, and WAV files.

Was contact information of contributors published?
No. Contact information was not published. E-mail addresses were collected to acknowledge receipt of submissions and if questions arose about them.

How were published newspaper or journal articles about COVID-19 submitted? 
If submitters had copyright: the webpage or article was saved as a PDF and uploaded through a form. If the submitter did not have copyright, a URL was requested. In special circumstances, SBUL created a catalog record and link to the web content rather than storing the file in the institutional repository.  

Could contributors submit to the collection more than once?
Yes. There were no limitations on the number of submissions. 

What was the submission process? 
Submissions were collected and streamlined through use of Google forms.

When were oral histories recorded?
Oral histories were scheduled throughout the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters.

Were projects created by departments included?
Projects created by departments outside of the University Libraries were considered.

Were data sets, research, and scholarly articles collected?
Research related to COVID-19 was directly submitted to Academic Commons, the University Libraries’ open access repository. Files were added to the collection named “COVID-19 Related Research Projects.”

Who do I contact if I have questions? 
Contact Kristen J. Nyitray ( and Dana Reijerkerk (