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Research Shows Virus Undetectable on Library Materials After Three Days

posted: , by Heather Wasklewicz
tags: About the Library | COVID-19 Closure | Director's Updates | Portland community | Adults | Teens | Health | Welcome | Health Resources

Monday, June 22, 2020

The results are in! New research determines that the COVID virus is not detectable on the most common library materials after 1-3 days.

Today is an important day for libraries on our path to safely welcome staff and patrons back to using library collections in the context of COVID-19. This Spring, a key research study was designed specifically to help libraries and museums reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by testing how long the virus survives on library collections and suggest ways to prevent exposure.

Battelle, the Ohio-based not-for-profit scientific research laboratory that conducted the study, just announced their results that the Novel Coronavirus which causes COVID-19 dissipates from the five most common library materials in 24 to 72 hours in standard temperature and humidity conditions typical to an air-conditioned office or building. These materials include book covers (hard and soft), plain paper pages inside a closed book, plastic book covering, and a DVD case.

This is very important for libraries, as the current Maine DECD checklist and Maine State Library guidance had suggested a period between 3-7 days. Portland Public Library, opting to be most certain, has been quarantining returned library materials for 7 days before handling. We will now shorten that to 3 days, which means we can check-in items sooner and pass popular items to their next patron faster.

This study is the first phase of the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project, a collaborative effort amongst Battelle, the Institute of Museum and Library Services which provides federal funding to museum and libraries, OCLC which is a nonprofit global cooperative serving libraries with shared technology and research, and the Columbus (OH) Metropolitan Library. Subsequent phases will continue to refine the research, update reviews of other research, and provide toolkits to libraries.

Portland Public Library’s Commitment to Work for Racial Justice and Equity

posted: , by Heather Wasklewicz
tags: Adults | Teens

 June 19, 2020

In our more than 150-year history, Portland Public Library’s mission has been to promote a city of readers through access to learning and opportunities for the free and full expression of ideas by all. 

Portland Public Library is a central institution in Greater Portland that is accessible and free to all who seek its resources. However, the recent murders of Black men and women, magnifying years of racial injustice, impel us to recognize that PPL must take action to dismantle racism in our systems — education, healthcare, law enforcement, employment, and others — especially for the Black community and other people of color. 

To fully embrace the Library’s mission and live our values, we must examine and be accountable for our practices, internally and externally, and structure new ways forward. We commit immediately to: 

  • Review policies and change those that result in inequitable treatment of all who access the Library 
  • Intentionally develop the Library Board and Staff to reflect and magnify the rich diversity of our Greater Portland community 
  • Equip the Library Board and Staff for greater self-knowledge and understanding about their role in anti-racism 
  • Build collections that tell the many stories and images of our evolving community 
  • Initiate programs and dialogues that encourage broad and divergent perspectives to engage with one another and advance a community committed to equity and racial justice. 
  • Join with community partners in all sectors who share our commitment to actively identify and break down barriers to racial justice and equity 

Join us in our work to achieve racial and social justice. We will know we are living our commitment when we all hold each other accountable. 

Sarah Campbell, Executive Director

Peter Richardson, PPL Board of Trustees, President  



posted: , by Raminta Moore
tags: Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture | Genealogy
image scan of the Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation. Lithograph by L. Lipman, Milwaukee, Wisc., Feb. 26, 1864. Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.


Today marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, on June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas, with the news that the War was over and slavery was abolished. According to Juneteenth.com, there are several guesses as to why the two year delay. Some speculate, that the messenger carrying the notice from the Federal government was murdered. Another theory assumes, that the information was withheld by slave owners hoping to continue to have labor for their cotton harvests.

Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the people of Texas, since there were few Union troops around at the time to enforce it. But, with the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee in April 1865 and the arrival of Gen. Gordon Granger’s regiment in Galveston, troops were finally strong enough to enforce the executive order. Newly freed men rejoiced, originating the annual “Juneteenth” celebration, which commemorates the freeing of the slaves in Texas.

Although Juneteenth has been informally celebrated each year since 1865, it wasn’t until June 3, 1979, that Texas became the first state to proclaim Juneteenth an official state holiday.

Photo of Uncle Billy McCrew, freed slave

Billy McCrea, a former slave who remembered the Union troops coming into Texas in 1865 and being told that he was free. Photo by Ruby Terrill Lomax, September 30, 1940.

Currently only Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana are the only states that do not celebrate Juneteenth.

Juneteenth Resources and Local Events:


  • PPL resources regarding Juneteenth and Emancipation.
  • For a list of African American parks from the National Parks Service, please click here.
  • For recordings of former Texas slaves, please click here.
  • For African American Culture in Maine, please click here.
  • For information on African American genealogy from the Library of Congress, please click here.
  • The Freedmen’s Bureau Project has compiled nearly 1.8 million records of men, women and children, searchable online. To use this database to find your African American ancestry, please click here.
  • For the “resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and expressing the sense of the Senate that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future” by the 111th US Congress, please click here.
  • For the African American Biographical Database, collecting information on African Americans from 1790 – 1950, please click here.



  • Juneteenth! with Janaesound, Rodney Mashia, B. Aull, Abdul Ali
    Fri, June 19, 2020, State Theatre Facebook   Doors: 8:00pm – Show: 8:00pm – all ages
  • The third and final installment in Maine Inside Out’s outdoor June performance series is a recognition and celebration of Juneteenth in Portland’s Congress Square Park. Hosted by the MIO Portland group, the event will feature the final performance of MIO’s original play “Unspoken Truth” along with original artwork created in partnership with the Maine Center for Electronic Music. Please come join us for the final performance of this powerful, bold play.
  • The Slave Liberation Project, Installation by Hi Tiger in honor of Juneteenth
    Friday, June 19th, 5:30 – 7:30 Engine, 163 Main Street, Biddeford
  • The National Museum of African American History & Culture’s virtual event, Juneteenth: A Celebration Of Resilience
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