As part of the REALM (Reopening Archives Libraries and Museums) Project, OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle are conducting research on how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums. The project will draw upon the research to produce authoritative, science-based information on how—or if— materials can be handled to mitigate exposure to staff and visitors. To date, four rounds of tests have been conducted.
- Round one tested hardback book cover (buckram cloth), softback book cover, plain paper pages inside a closed book, plastic book covering (biaxially oriented polyester film), and DVD case. Results.
- Round two tested Braille paper pages, glossy paper pages from a coffee table book, magazine pages, children’s board book, and archival folders. Results.
- Round three tested talking book, USB cassette, DVD, storage bag (flexible plastic), storage container (rigid plastic), and plexiglass. Results.
- The fourth round tested the following items:
- Hardback book cover (buckram cloth)
- Softcover book cover (coated paper)
- Plastic protective cover (biaxially oriented polyester film)
- DVD case (polypropylene)
- Expanded polyethylene foam (1-inch expanded polyethylene foam)
From the study, “Results show that after six days of quarantine, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was still detected on all five materials tested (graphic below). The results of Test 4 highlight the effect of stacking and its ability to prolong the survivability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
As a result, Howard County Library System extended the quarantine period for all returned materials to seven days effective September 9, 2020.
The British Medical Journal article Managing Uncertainty in the COVID-19 Era presents five rules for making decisions during times of uncertainty:
- Most data will be flawed or incomplete. Be honest and transparent about this.
- For some questions, certainty can be or never be reached. Consider carefully whether to wait for definitive evidence or act on the evidence that you have.
- Make sense of complex situations by acknowledging the complexity, admitting ignorance, exploring the paradoxes, and reflecting collectively.
- Different people and different stakeholder groups interpret data differently. Deliberation among stakeholders may generate multifaceted solutions.
- Pragmatic intervention carefully observed and compared in real-world settings can generate useful data to complement the findings of controlled trials and other forms of evidence.
Read about HCLS phased reopening plans here.