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Memory Bank

Memory Bank

Memory Bank called on Victorians to help State Library Victoria archive the everyday experiences of life during the pandemic.

Over a period of 21 weeks during 2020, we invited Victorians to respond to a weekly thematic prompt to share everyday observations of pivotal moments in time.

We were keen to capture extraordinary moments, and ordinary ones too. Memories that can easily be lost in the day's blur or forgotten in a week's time.

We received many submissions from all over Victoria. These contributions of the mundane, the ephemeral and the magical will cement this experience and bring it to life for those who come after us.

Submissions for Memory Bank are now closed and our librarians are beginning to catalogue all of this fascinating material.

Once completed, the archive will be available through the Library's online catalogue.

Week 21: Our legacy

A grandfather sits at a table with his preschool-aged granddaughter

It's in a forward-looking spirit that we offer our final question.

This week, tell us: what do you want people in 100 years from now to know about this time?

Week twenty-one: Our legacy

Week 20: Wonder

A little girl looks off to the distance as she sits on a swing with her puppy

Has the pandemic rekindled your childlike sense of wonder?

We’ve been finding joy in the little things – spring flowers blooming, star gazing, being up at dawn, a long hot bath, listening to the rain and rereading our favourite books.

What small pleasures have brought you joy during lockdown?

Week twenty: Wonder

Week 19: Social activities

Men and women with 1960s outfits and hairstyles enjoy a drink at a bar

Wolfgang Sievers

As we creak into the halfway point of lockdown, we're really feeling those Groundhog Day vibes.

So let's step back for a moment to take a long view.

Please share the social activities that you can't wait to pick up when restrictions ease!

Week nineteen: Social activities

Week 18: Iso hair

A man with a big beard and hair receives a trim while three other men look on smiling

With hairdressers and barbers closed, we're all letting our hair down ... and then some.

Maybe you've grown iso-bangs or an iso-mo, cut your kids' hair or let them self-style with craft scissors, shaved off or grown a beard, let your grey roots shine or covered up with a DIY dye job.

This week: share photos of your best, your worst and your craziest lockdown hairstyles and haircuts.

Week eighteen: Iso hair

Week 17: Electric dreams

A woman feeds a man a cracker as they play records on a turntable

During lockdown, technology is a friend to many. As a society in lockdown, we have come to depend on it.

So tell us: what's the techology that you're most grateful for lockdown? Whether it's digital, analogue or mechanical, we'd like to hear what's making a difference for you while you're physically isolated.

Week seventeen: Electric dreams

Week 16: Furry companions

A young woman looks fondly at the dog she's holding

Our devoted pets have always been here for us, 24/7.

Lockdown has levelled the playing field and now we too are there for them, around the clock.

This week, share your pet pictures and tell us how has your relationship with your pet(s) has changed during lockdown.

Week sixteen: Furry companions

Week 15: Lockdown content

Pencil sketch of a woman laying down reading

Whether your preferred content amplifies the outside world or diverts you from it, we'd love to know what's got your attention.

This week: tell us about the books you're reading and sites you're bookmarking, the shows you're binge-watching and music playlists you're creating, the podcasts you're queueing and online festivals you're attending.

Week fifteen: Lockdown content

Week 14: Cover up

A woman holds hand with a child as they walk through dust wearing face coverings

It's now mandatory to wear a face mask when in public.

This week, express yourself and your community spirit by sending us a face mask selfie.

Week fourteen: Cover up

Week 13: Daily snapshots

A blonde man rides a bicycle down a suburban street

During the pandemic, many of us are enjoying walking – not only as a form of exercise but also as a vital reality check and literally a breath of fresh air.

As we interact with the weather and temperature, other people, front yards and bush tracks, the world returns to a human perspective and we slow. Right. Down. 

This week, give us a glimpse into your world by sharing photos you've taken while making tracks in your local area.

Week thirteen: Daily snapshots

Week 12: Make, do & fix

A smiling woman's back is turned to us, her jacket emblazoned with the words 'Sew what'

Rennie Ellis, 1992

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the rhythms of our daily lives, an unexpected upside is that many of us have discovered our inner makers and tinkerers.

From intricate embroidery to practical home DIY, getting messy with clay and whittling wood ... many of us are discovering and remembering the age-old pleasure of making, doing and fixing things with our very own hands.

Share your photos and stories of the items you've made or fixed – we'd love to see your tentative first steps, constructive 'failures' and shining triumphs!

Week twelve: Make, do & fix

Week 11: Kitchen fads & fails

Whether it’s Anzac cookies, banana bread, whipped coffee or sourdough – it’s safe to say these past few months in isolation have seen a range of baking fads fill our social feeds.

While some of us have flourished into at-home chefs and bakers, there have no doubt been some baking fails along the way too.

We’re not here to judge though, so whether you’re a budding Masterchef or realise it’s best left to the professionals, let us know how your iso-baking skills are going.

Week eleven: Kitchen fads and fails

Week 10: Language

People wearing headphones sit in a grid of small booths

Tracing the ways that words are created and mutated helps us make sense of social change.

Australians love a play on words and the language of COVID-19 has become part of the public’s consciousness since March. Shortenings (‘iso’), abbreviations (‘WFH’) and verbs (‘doomscrolling’) have dominated our conversations at home and online.

What’s the best new word you’ve heard in 2020? Extra points if you coined the term or can show us what it means with a picture!

Week ten: Language

Week 9: Collective versus individual

Eight men in white outfits support each other in a human pyramid

Flattening the curve is largely succeeding in Victoria because we're trusting the state to manage our collective welfare.

This delicate balance between individual rights versus shared duty for the common good highlights a dilemma: we don't know if, or when, things will return to 'normal'.

Tell us: is there anything you'd be prepared to give up, to get on with your old life?

Week nine: Collective versus individual

Week 8: Special occasions

Front cover of Australian Women's Weekly depicts a nurse cradling a newborn

Through history, humans have always gathered to celebrate and to mourn.

How do we do this when safety demands we keep 1.5 metres apart?

This week, tell us how you’ve overcome social distance or isolation to mark a significant life event.

Week eight: Special occasions

Week 7: Public health

Take safety with you and have a good time

Public health campaigns are key to communicating messages about how to stay safe, and the best campaigns stay in people’s minds for a long time.

This week, design a poster or compose a slogan to promote public safety through the pandemic.

Week seven: Public health

Week 6: Exercise & wellbeing

A board game cover shows players on a football field

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed lounge rooms into gyms and tranquil walking trails into super-highways.

All of us, from couch potatoes to Olympians, are finding new ways to keep active, satisfy our competitive urges and seek the equilibrium that exercise brings to the body and mind.

This week we ask: what is motivating you to keep moving during this time?

Week six: Exercise & wellbeing

Week 5: On the frontline

Women in yellow dresses queuing at a supermarket

COVID-19 is being fought on a range of frontlines by workers we've always recognised as essential – nurses, doctors and paramedics – and those whose services are now acknowledged as indispensable, too: cleaners, checkout operators, shelf stackers, rubbish collectors, delivery drivers, teachers and childcare providers.

We ask you this week to create a portrait of your COVID-19 heroes: those who are keeping us safe, healthy, clean and fed.

Week five: On the frontline

Week 4: Acts of kindness

A sheet containing small round scouts badges

Kindness is contagious ... a cake left on a doorstep, the offer of a helping hand, a friendly hello from a neighbour you’ve only just met.

Girl Guides and Scouts are awarded badges for their acts of service.

If you were going to design a badge rewarding an act of kindness during this time, what would it look like?

Week four: Acts of kindness

Week 3: Staying connected

Old postcard embroidered with a military badge

Social distancing is keeping us apart, but the importance of connection in all its forms has never been clearer.

This week, compose a message to someone you are missing during this period of isolation. 

Week three: Staying connected

Week 2: What have you learned from home?

Share a project or story to tell us how and what you've learned at home. From at-home schooling to new hobbies, to the discoveries you're making about yourself or the people you live with: we want to hear from you!

Week two: What have you learned from home? 

Week 1: What's in your fridge?

For week one of the Collective Isolation Project, we ask you: What's in your fridge or pantry? You could take an inventory, tell us how many you have of a particular item, or send us your shopping list or weekly menu – we’d love to know!

Carolyn Fraser wants curators in 100 years' time to get a prickling feeling of excitement when they delve into the Memory Bank and unearth your stories of this moment.

Week 1: What's in your fridge?

Kate Torney on Memory Bank

Former CEO Kate Torney invites you to help the Library capture the collective memory of this moment in Victoria's history, for future generations.

Author Clare Wright on Memory Bank

Historian Clare Wright talks about how the Memory Bank will become an invaluable primary resource for future researchers.

Tips for taking photos

Black and white photographs from the 1940s including weddings and servicemen

Display of photographer Hans Bonney's work, c. 1940–50, Pictures Collection, State Library Victoria

Read our ten handy tips for taking high-quality photos for Memory Bank.

Image credit

The striking black-and-white photograph for Memory Bank is of dancer Dallas Kinney by Maggie Diaz, 1958, in the State Library Victoria Pictures Collection.

Collecting Conversations videos

One boy points to a map while another listens on an old analogue phone

Watch weekly instalments of this video series where some of Victoria’s most interesting collectors discuss their love of objects – and the stories they reveal about our lives.​

Citizen Collectors' Toolkit videos

Two women holding books

Racing trophies [Wangaratta, Vic.] [picture] Le Dawn Studios archive, State Library of Victoria, 1970

Join our collection specialists to hear how they build and care for the State’s collection, and learn tips for collecting at home in this weekly video series.