“Everyone deserves to be remembered,” says Donna Bachowski, Reference Central Manager, Orange County Florida Library System. Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and support from her own library, Bachowski has facilitated a way to bring that sentiment closer to reality. She spearheaded the creation of EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage), an obituary database that is projected to a nation-wide collective.
“Obituaries have become very expensive,” Bachowski reported. “We have noticed a substantial decrease in obituaries published in the Orlando Sentinel. As a result we have created a free, easy to use online form with guided fields into which information about the deceased may be added.” Bachowski estimates the decrease in newspaper published obituaries in the Orlando area approached 46% over the past decade.
The Cedar City Library in Cedar City, Utah is among the first in the nation to enter an agreement to participate in this program. They join Orange County, the Tulsa Oklahoma City-County Library, and the Brooklyn New York Public Library in this effort. The service is free and permanent “making libraries the logical partners in this project,” Bachowski points out.
EPOCH content is community generated. That is, community members submit the content to each obituary. The site is monitored and content that is libelous, defamatory, or salacious will not be published. Likewise, though viewers are allowed to comment on obituaries, no comments will be posted without approval of the original writer of the obituary."