Documenting history

  • Greenfield Public Library Assistant Head of Borrower Services Francesca Passiglia passed out library cards to new young members before the pandemic hit.  STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/28/2020 4:01:23 AM
Modified: 5/28/2020 4:00:24 AM

Greenfield Public Library has begun collecting stories about how Franklin County residents are coping during the global pandemic.

Assistant Head of Borrower Services Francesca Passiglia said shortly after Gov. Charlie Baker ordered the COVID-19 shutdown in mid-March, the library started thinking about what it could do during the closure.

“During the 1918 flu, personal histories were gathered and later shared,” Passiglia said. “Libraries gathered information. We thought it was a good thing to do, so we formulated a questionnaire.”

Passiglia said it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to fill out. There are 11 questions that allow people to reflect on what’s happening in their lives during the pandemic.

“We wanted to make it as accessible as possible, so people can fill it out online, by sending an email or can call us to set up an appointment for us to interview them by phone, asking them the questions,” Passiglia said.

She said the questions range from asking about their personal and family lives to their work lives. 

“People are out of work or are working from home,” she said. “Others are working on the front lines. There’s a lot to be told out there.”

Passiglia said people can answer the questions, but don’t have to answer all of them if they don’t want to. She said the library just feels that people, in years to come, will be curious about how people coped during this time.

She said responses have been trickling in — the library reached out to its volunteers first, so it has several personal stories already. 

“We’ve been reading them as they come in,” she said. “Eventually, we’ll compile all of them. We’d like to have a print version and an online version.”

Passiglia said this is a great way to “bring the community together, all sharing their experiences.” She said people throughout the county are served by GPL, so it would like to see as many of them as possible share their stories.

Passiglia said she is working on the project with library employees Tony Faith, Jeremiah Rood, Misha Storm and Marjorie Curtis. She said library employees are also going in to prepare for the library’s move to a new facility in three years, as well as the more urgent task of getting things done to prepare to reopen when the governor gives the go-ahead.

“We’re also reaching out to patrons to see how they’re doing,” she said. “We’re not used to this — we typically have so many people come in each day. We really miss them.”

To contribute to the project and tell your story, visit

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or


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