St Andrews Covid-19 archive

Elizabeth Andrews
Thursday 16 April 2020
balck and white photograph of women sitting at a table reading
Portrait of a young woman reading a book, ca.1855 – 1870, ID: 2014-3-87

In a short space of time, everyone’s lives have changed dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The University Library recognises that your experiences during this period of history will be of interest to future researchers.

The Library aims to gather information about the impact of COVID-19 on the St Andrews community and on your daily lives in order to preserve it in the University Archive, building on a tradition of collaboration started by Professor Peter Redford Scott Lang’s student reminiscence project in 1922. These community collections help to complement the official University records that stretch back over 600 years.

Reminiscence by Thomas Wilson (UYM310/Wilson/328).
Reminiscence by Thomas Wilson – a student from 1848-52 (UYM310/Wilson/328).

The Library would like to invite current staff and students to submit contributions and will also be asking some local organisations about their experiences. Libraries and archives around the country are initiating similar projects in order to ensure that social and historical records about the outbreak are captured for future generations.

This is an extremely busy and pressured time, and there is absolutely no obligation to take part. If you feel that keeping a diary or other record of your routine and feelings may help, we hope that you will share this with the Library.

Extracts from diary of Sir Ralph William Anstruther 1890-1934 Call number msdep121/8/2/9/2/4
Extracts from diary of Sir Ralph William Anstruther 1890-1934 (msdep121/8/2/9/2/4)

What could you submit?

The Library is open to different kinds of submissions in either paper or electronic form. They can be your recorded thoughts, ideas, photographs, drawings, letters, personal audio or video recordings, diaries and so on.

For now, the only restrictions on the format of the material you submit are listed below.

It is important that you do not risk your own or anyone else’s health whilst gathering this material. All government guidelines regarding hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation should be followed.

What should not be submitted?

Please only submit material that you have created yourself. The Library cannot accept content created by third parties, for example: television and radio recordings, newspaper or magazine clippings.

We cannot archive web content. Instead, any web content should be nominated for inclusion in the UK web archive, email:

When can I submit?

You can send the Library digital material as you go along (daily, weekly etc.) or compile it and send it to us after a number of months. Whatever approach suits you best.

If you want to send us physical material, please hold on to it for now and post it or hand it in when the Library buildings reopen.

How do I submit?

If you would like to participate please email and let us know what you would like to submit. We can discuss the best way of sending us content and answer any questions you may have.

When you send the Library material, you’ll need to include: your name, your student or staff role, and any additional information you would like to include with your submission.

We will treat everything you send us with care and sensitivity. This may mean not allowing people to see your submission until after a long period of time has passed. If you would like your submission to be restricted from public access for a period of time, please let us know.

The Library asks that any submitted material comes to us as a gift, and that copyright is transferred to the University. This is to ensure that all material in the archive can be managed on the same terms, and that future researchers will be clear on how they can use the collection. You’ll be asked to sign a form to allow this.


Some tips if you are planning on contributing are listed below.

    • Audio and video: When you are making an audio or video recording state clearly at the beginning of the recording the date, your name and the geographical location where you are.
    • Diary: Keep a diary every day if possible. Ensure each diary entry is dated. Avoid writing in shorthand. Consider what will or will not be understandable in six months or one year (for example: ‘after what happened today in X region’, will people know what you are referring to? If not, briefly explain). Record the mundane as well as the large events. Don’t revise or rewrite entries after the fact – it is better to record how it was in the moment rather than with hindsight.
    • Photographs: Always ensure you give photographs meaningful names and record the date and place they were taken.


If you are stuck for ideas as to what to record some suggestions are listed below.

    • What (approximate) number of hours did you previously work? Are you working or studying significantly more hours or less and if so, how many?
    • What sources are you relying on for accurate information about the pandemic?
    • In what ways has the pandemic impacted on your working practices?
    • Are there any particular shortages you are experiencing of food, medicines or equipment? If so, what are they?
    • What impact have recent events had on your health and wellbeing?
    • What are you doing to keep yourself calm / healthy and to relax?
    • What do you think of your government’s response to the pandemic?
    • ‘A Day in the Life’, where you would record everything you did one day – what time you began work or study, when you finished, when your breaks were and how long they lasted, how many patients you treated, any issues or problems you faced.

The University Library thanks you for any information you are willing to share. If you have any questions about this project, please get in touch:

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