In a FamilySearch Blog for 16 October 2015 entitled, "Cedar City Library Spearheads Obituary Collective in Utah," Steven Decker, the Director of the Cedar City Public Library, introduces EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage), an obituary database sponsored by the Orange County (Florida) Library System that is projected to become a nation-wide collective. Quoting from the FamilySearch blog post:
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 The site is monitored and content that is libelous, defamatory, or salacious will not be published.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.
EPOCH’s goal is to cooperate with one key library in each state to sponsor and promote the program throughout the state. What spurred Bachowski and her associates to develop the system? “So much information – so much cultural heritage is being lost because, in many cases, obituaries are not being published.”The EPOCH project is described on its website as follows:
Created by the Orange County Library System with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage) is a website that allows anyone to create and publish a free obituary online.
In an effort to involve the community in their own collection of local history, EPOCH allows family and friends of the deceased to submit a detailed obituary of their loved one and share a meaningful memory with the residents of the community.
Publishing a tribute with EPOCH is done by simply creating an account using a valid e-mail address. Every tribute can include an unlimited amount of text content and up to 15 items of media, including photo, video, and audio files. A tribute can be created by anyone for anyone who has passed away, regardless of their location of residence or when the death occurred.
Our goal is for EPOCH to be a readily accessible service nationwide and we are currently seeking partner libraries and organizations in every state. We are very pleased to announce our first EPOCH partner library, Tulsa City-County Library, who will be the official EPOCH collaborator for the state of Oklahoma. Brooklyn Public Library has also partnered with EPOCH to be the official collaborator for the state of New York, and is looking forward to offer Brooklynites a platform to preserve and honor the memories of their loved ones.Obituaries have always been difficult to research. Many are available online through newspaper digitization projects such as the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project, but current obituaries are sometimes only available for a limited period of time. Many newspapers only maintain online databases for a few months or so. This present project is one way that these limitation could be overcome in the future.