As libraries begin to reopen, they look to studies such as those from REALM (Reopening Archives, Libraries and Museums) for guidance. It notes that you need to be careful with circulating collections and update service plans to ensure a safe working environment. The findings show that after two days of quarantine most paper based collections are safe.
Battelle conducted a natural attenuation study to provide information on how long some commonly handled materials would need to be quarantined prior to being returned to being put back into use. According to their web site, “testing was conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) on five materials held at standard room temperature and humidity condition.
Results show that after two days of quarantine in a stacked configuration, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the archival folders. After four days of quarantine in their stacked configuration, the virus was not detectable on the braille
pages, glossy book pages, and board book. The magazine pages showed a trace amount of virus at four days.
According to the REALM evaluation,standard office temperature (68°F to 75°F) and relative humidity conditions (30 to 50 percent) may provide an environment that allows for the natural attenuation of SARS-CoV-2 present on these materials after two days of quarantine for archival folders and four days of quarantine for the book pages.
This study is just one example of the many resources to consider when approaching reopening. As always, the safety of staff and patrons must be the first priority. We can help you determine the best space and service model for your library.