The aims and objectives
New library collections have been created by employing various methods to compile stories of the lives of women during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as storytelling, a series of lectures and a web archive collection of online resources. The project promotes the power of women in times of crisis, but it also helps paint a bigger picture of the general position of women in Serbian society and advocates for gender equality.
There have been 4 milestones in the project: Collection Days, the creation of a web archive collection, a series of lectures and a blog for Europeana. All of them have been met. However, the deadlines have not been met because of the epidemiological situation in Serbia. Everything got prolonged for an extra couple of months. Also, Collection Days took place online instead of organising a physical event. Besides, the blog will be published on Europeana Pro, however not during Women’s History Month but rather as a continuation of it in April. The project web page is an additional milestone along with the fact that IFLA selected our project poster to be presented in Dublin during the World Library and Information Congress 2022.
The E-publication titled Women’s Practices in the Time of the Pandemic contains stories of women from our environment. Its pages reveal the experiences of daughters, mothers, wives and grandmothers and their dedication to their professions and families. Their fight has not just been against the virus, but also for health, existence and their families. They have been innovative, creative and dedicated. Most of them have provided photos of the “wild cards” they relied on to overcome the toughest moments.
The web archive collection is a selection of content from different media – daily newspapers, weeklies, magazines, information portals and blogs. The links have been collected in Serbian, but the topics they deal with cross the borders of Serbia, pointing to the fact that women have faced similar problems in this altered everyday life worldwide.
The series of lectures on women’s practices during the pandemic was initiated with the idea of hearing the voice of experts on the topic, having in mind various aspects. Biljana Dojčinović, Jelena Milinković, Zorica Mršević, Svetlana Janković and Nikola Keravica spoke from their points of view about the experiences they have had during the pandemic, but they also presented their research activities showing that women have experienced many extra burdens and difficulties, besides those already in place considering the existence of specific gender roles. Nikola Keravica’s lecture on war crises and the role of women in them in ancient times is included in this cycle to point out the historic context of many problems related to gender stereotypes and the division of gender roles.
The project was a pioneering attempt by a cultural heritage institution in Serbia, to listen to, record, digitise and preserve the experiences of women during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. This trailblazer initiative has been met with many excellent reactions among the interviewed women, but also the followers of the social network channels belonging to the National Library of Serbia. The blog about this initiative, published at Europeana Pro “Exploring Serbian women’s voices from the pandemic through cultural heritage”, also had a certain impact. We hope it starts an avalanche of similar projects and activities within the library. Here are some of the reactions of the participating women: Milica (interviewee): “I am thrilled to have been able to write about the magnificent topic you two suggested. I am truly flattered to have had an opportunity to be a part of it.”
Biljana Dojčinović (lecturer): “I spent a lot of time in the kitchen during those days (of lock-down). At one point, I remembered a poem (it was not the first time that inspiration had come to me while being surrounded by the dishes). All the time, I had a feeling that I was with my mum, who had passed away 18 years ago. The poem has a trivial title but I find it deeply meaningful: Soup Dumplings.”
Project web page: https://nb.rs/zenske-prakse/
Blog at Europeana Pro: https://pro.europeana.eu/post/exploring-serbian-women-s-voices-from-the-pandemic-through-cultural-heritage