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Memory Bank

The Collective Isolation Project

We're calling on all Victorians to join us as we inaugurate the Memory Bank to archive what everyday life in Victoria is actually like now, during this time of collective isolation.

Daily life is different for each of us during this period of restrictions and physical isolation, and we're intensely curious about what this moment looks like for you.

Tell us, what do you care about right now? What's capturing your attention?

About Memory Bank

Memory Bank is a long-term collecting project that invites you to share your everyday observations of pivotal moments in time.

Extraordinary moments, and ordinary ones too, can easily be lost in the day's blur or forgotten in a week's time.

So each week we are going to invite you, our citizen collectors, to undertake a specific task or respond to a prompt.

Your contributions of the mundane, the ephemeral and the magical will cement this moment and bring it to life for those who come after us.

Please join us! We're banking on you to build the archive of the future.

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?

Contribute to Memory Bank

What to contribute

The Library cultivates Victoria’s memory and heritage to offer a unique lens on Victoria’s place in the world.

In line with our Collections and Content Strategy, we aspire to collect a variety of responses, both material and digital – from photos to printed ephemera, written lists to oral histories, poems to tactile objects.  

Your response to our prompts may be creative or literal – it's up to you!

How to contribute

Please send your files (photo, sound files or film clips) to our Facebook Memory Bank group and tag us with #SLVMemoryBank.

If you're not on Facebook, please submit your contribution via our Offer collection material process.

If you contribute to Memory Bank, we may contact you to discuss collecting and using your images, stories, objects and experiences. With your permission, these may be added to the State Collection or used in future Library programs.

We may not be able to accept everything, but we will endeavour to do so. Our collection policy covers almost everything you could imagine: just try us!

Kate Torney on Memory Bank

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.