Many of us have received questions about how, in this time of extreme uncertainty as the pandemic continues, are we going to work through the important topic of lending materials in school and public libraries. While we have e-materials that can be safely circulated by our users, the bulk of most collections in school and public libraries remains physical, tangible items.
The Maryland State Library Resource Center and Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore) have put together a Guide to Handling Materials during COVID-19. This document, as stated, outlines the safest practices known as of March 27, 2020. It includes references and links to associated information.
Another notable article from American Libraries, “How to Sanitize Materials in a Pandemic” (also dated March 27, 2020), similarly outlines suggestions for handling library materials.
This quote from Jacob Nadal, Director for Preservation at the Library of Congress is included in the first document, and indicates that there are still many unknowns about the viability of the virus on various library materials:
“There are no studies that specifically answer the question of how transmissible COVID19 might be from the most common library materials – for example coated and uncoated paper, bookcloth, or polyester book jackets. Quarantine of materials for 72 or more hours seems to be the safest course.… There is very little research on the effects of medically effective sterilization and sanitization measures on the condition of library materials, another reason to favor quarantine.”
It should be noted that due to the national shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment), items such as gloves should be reserved for medical, health care, and first responders and not purchased or stockpiled by libraries at this time. Use your judgment about how many gloves currently on hand at your school or library would be needed for the safe handling of library materials, and if large amounts of unopened boxes of gloves could be donated to more pressing needs in your community.
Thank you for your continuing work for and with both teens and everyone within your service populations,
Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter : @toddbcpl