From Columbine to
Sandy Hook, individuals around the world have responded to violent mass
shootings publicized in mainstream media by sending expressions of grief and
sympathy—such as letters, flowers, and teddy bears—by the tens and even
hundreds of thousands. Increasingly, there is an expectation that some, if not
all, of the condolence items will be kept or saved.
My research on this
topic, which takes the form of traditional publications, a multimedia
documentary, and a mobile-based web app, explores how this unusual and
unexpected archival task often falls to libraries, what we can learn about our
culture through what we choose to kept or discard following unthinkable
tragedies, and how we can begin to prevent gun violence.