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.