Effective immediately, the library is ending its 6-day quarantine on returned materials. This policy was based on a ‘better safe than sorry’ interpretation of the REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Study, a national research project that sought to produce science-based information about how materials can be handled to mitigate COVID-19 exposure to staff and visitors of libraries.
In short, the REALM study examined how long the virus stayed on a variety of surfaces commonly found in libraries, and it found that there was a trace amount of bacteria on surfaces like paper and plastic for days after exposure. Scary, right? But the trace amount changed very little after the first hour of exposure until the end of day six, meaning that while our good intentions to quarantine for an extended period may have provided peace of mind, it did very little to actually help prevent virus spread.
Another factor leading to the end of our quarantine was recent CDC guidelines that state “coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days,” and they simply recommend a normal routine cleaning. In addition to routine cleaning on frequently-touched surfaces, we also use a disinfecting fogger every evening throughout the entire building, put out hand sanitizer for all of our staff and patrons, and require face coverings for everyone that enters.
While we can’t speak for other MidYork Libraries, many of our member libraries have transitioned away from a lengthy quarantine, following the advice of our System Administration and Directors Advisory Council. This move will finally solve the problem of items not coming off of your account until a week after you returned them, which has been the case since we started taking items back in June 2020.
We realize that this change, like any change right now, can be scary. If you have questions or concerns please reach out and I will be happy to go into more detail regarding how this decision was made.
Thank you for reading and stay safe! Oh, and don’t forget to buy your Friends of the Library Basket Raffle tickets! Last week before the drawing!