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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