Library of Virginia Collecting Photographs of Pandemic-Related Signs

May 26th, 2020

"Signs of the Time: COVID-19 in Virginia": be a part of recording history

The National during a global pandemicThe Library of Virginia is collecting images of coronavirus related signage from the public through a project called “Signs of the Time: COVID-19 in Virginia” on Tumblr.

In the midst of the current pandemic, many Virginia businesses have temporarily shut their doors; reduced hours; or set in place other health-related measures. Many use signs to communicate these changes to customers and clients. Signs can indicate where to collect or drop off products, remind people to practice social distancing, and communicate other safety best practices.

Signs of the Time: COVID-19 in Virginia

Community photos of these temporary signs will help future generations visualize the world during this time; see what life was like for Virginians during the disruption to business and social interaction caused by the coronavirus. The Library of Virginia is not encouraging people to leave home to take photos; simply to document signs they see in venturing out for food or other supplies.

The Library of Virginia says it has two main focuses in its pandemic collecting: documenting the official response and governmental guidance; and collecting representative examples of how Virginia communities have been affected.

“For the Visual Studies Collection specifically, I wanted to express through visual imagery how Virginians’ public lives were impacted with the halting of regular business and social interaction,” said Dale Neighbors, the Library’s Visual Studies Collection coordinator. “Businesses and restaurants were just beginning to post signs announcing changes in hours and services offered; I wanted to seize the moment before such items, and the memories associated with them, faded away. Photographing these ephemeral signs and submitting them to the Library is a way of preserving history as it’s happening.”

Likewise, for more information, contact Dale Neighbors at or 804.692.3711.

Photographs of storefronts and signs can be submitted via desktop or mobile device, clicking the “Submit” option in the menu on the Tumblr page. “We chose Tumblr because it’s easy,” Neighbors said. “It seemed one of the most convenient ways for people to submit their images.”

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