Handbook of Research on Disaster Management and Contingency Planning in Modern Libraries
From Oklahoma City to Columbine to the Boston Marathon finish line, individuals around the world have responded to violent mass deaths publicized in mainstream media by creating ever-larger temporary memorials and sending expressions of sympathy—such as letters, flowers, tokens, and mementos—by the tens and even hundreds of thousands. Increasingly, there is an expectation that some, if not all, of the condolence and temporary memorial items will be kept or saved. This unusual and unexpected task of archiving so-called “spontaneous shrines” often falls to libraries and archives and few protocols, if any, exist for librarians and archivists in this role. This chapter aims to provide insight and guidance to librarians or archivists who must develop their own unique response to unanticipated and unthinkable tragedies. Response strategies are covered in both a discussion of the history and literature surrounding temporary memorials and three disaster case studies: the 1999 Texas A&M Bonfire Tragedy, the 2007 Virginia Tech Campus Shooting, and the 2012 Sandy Hook School Tragedy.
Maynor, Ashley R. "Response to the Unthinkable: Collecting and Archiving Condolence and Temporary Memorial Materials following Public Tragedies." In Handbook of Research on Disaster Management and Contingency Planning in Modern Libraries, ed. Emy Nelson Decker and Jennifer A. Townes, 582-624 (2016). doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8624-3.ch025