Shortly after the May 23, 2014 tragedy occurred, History Ph.D. student, Melissa Barthelemy, began curating the memorial sites in situ. She left chalk and blank sketch books at the sites so that community members could record their thoughts and pay tribute to those who had been lost. In addition, she began collecting newspapers with articles about the events in Isla Vista. Melissa took photographs of the sites and of the memorial activities that she was witnessing throughout the community. Melissa contacted the UCSB Library to see if the Library would be willing to house the collection of memorial items from the sites. As a result, an Ad-Hoc Memorial Preservation Group was formed to work on the project.
The May 23, 2014 Isla Vista Memorial Archive, housed within the UCSB Library Special Research Collections, consists mainly of condolence items left at spontaneous memorial sites, as well as items sent to the university in the wake of the incident that occurred; other materials represent how the university and the community responded to the incident. The collection includes artifacts such as candles, stuffed animals, origami cranes and lanterns, shoes, posters, signs, sympathy cards, and other items left at memorial sites. It also includes materials generated by the university and community organizations in response to the incident. Materials were also collected from spontaneous memorials that appeared at the sites on the first-year anniversary. In addition, items related to continuing memorial activities are included.