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Mar 26, 2020
As of today, it again appears that quarantining library material for 3 days is likely enough time for any coronavirus contamination to breakdown to the point that any detectable amounts of the virus wouldn't cause disease. The original study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (and to which everyone refers) is here:
After a report came out indicating that the virus was detected in a passenger ship 17 days after passengers had left the ship put these numbers into question. But based on a recent interview in The Guardian with two experts, we now understand that the some component of the virus was detected after 17 days but it wouldn't have been dangerous because it was no longer intact. In other words, it is still safe to say (it seems) that the virus isn't dangerous on anything after 72 hours.
Here's the latest article (interview) that supports the findings in published in NEJM: How long does coronavirus survive on different surfaces?
I'm keeping track of all these articles under the Safety tag on QuarantineLibrarianship.org.
Mar 23, 2020
I've suggested that the prudent approach to dealing with returned material is to quarantine everything for three days before anyone deals with it. MARCH 24, 2020 UPDATE: Three days may not be enough. I'd rather staff didn't handle any returns for X days at all, not even to check them in. But at some point, we are going to be moving into a "less closed" situation and libraries will want to do a bit more circulating of library material. Some locations might still be doing some limited circulation such as filling holds and providing for curbside pick-up. In my state of California, we aren't doing that since we are in complete lockdown but down the road, providing for limited holds fulfillment and curbside pick-up may make sense.
So, how do you implement limited and safe circulation. Well, one approach is offered by Andrew Fuerste-Henry. His library is using Koha so they may have more flexibility than some libraries. But since he is just recommending creating a new item status with some business rules applied, I'm guessing this can work for most, if not all, ILSs.
Here's his suggestion for how to create and set a quarantine status upon the return of library items: https://bywatersolutions.com/education/set-items-to-quarantine-status-upon-return.
Mar 20, 2020
I'm seeing a lot of discussion about how libraries are modifying their services to address the COVID-19 outbreak. The obvious first step is to provide more virtual services. There are lots of lists with free online resources for kids and ways for librarians to keep learning and we've developed this website, Quarantine Librarianship, so we can identify some of the best, nationally oriented, resources, keep up with current online events pertinent to the crisis, and to offer up some good solutions and best practices. Finally, there's a discussion forum there for anyone who wants to talk about whatever! But what I haven't seen enough of, is how libraries are dealing with - and should be dealing with - physical, library material.
When dealing with library material, the first question we need to ask is how safe is it for staff to handle library returns. The answer to that question is we really don't know.
I've only found two articles that give us a clue (https://quarantinelibrarianship.org/tags/safety) and they both cite the same study, Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. From this study, we could extrapolate how long the virus might survive on the pages of a library book because it addresses how long the virus survives on cardboard. Close enough? Maybe not but that's all we've got so far!
According to a March 17, 2020 NY Times article, How Long Will Coronavirus Live on Surfaces or in the Air Around You?, the study suggests that "the virus disintegrates over the course of the day on cardboard, lessening the worry among consumers that deliveries will spread the virus..." What it means to disintegrate over the course of the day is also not well-defined but they do say this:
On cardboard, it survives up to 24 hours, which suggests packages that arrive in the mail should have only low levels of the virus — unless the delivery person has coughed or sneezed on it or has handled it with contaminated hands.
The study finds that the virus lives longest on plastic (DVD cases?) and steel, surviving up to 72 hours.
NPR published an article on March 14 citing the same study (it was in preprint at the time) entitled "The New Coronavirus Can Live On Surfaces For 2-3 Days - Here's How to Clean Them." From this article (and many others), we can learn how to disinfect hard plastic surfaces like our media cases and the outside of books. The best idea is probably a solution of at least 60% isopropyl alcohol since the other oft-cited disinfectant (bleach) is probably going to be too hard on the book covers.
But even if staff clean the covers, we've got the issue of the inside of the books. No one is going to disinfect the pages. Even with media, cleaning the case is great but the inside of the case and the media itself is also a "hard surface" and I can't imagine staff sitting around disinfecting all that.
So, what to do with returns? My recommendation is that you leave them alone for three days. When your library closes, lock the book drops, tell people NOT to return anything, and just let everything sit for three (amount of time needed is still unclear) days. After three days of not being handled, the study suggests that the virus would not still be alive on surfaces, even hard surfaces like counters and media cases. So, after three days, staff could return to the library without having to be nervous about getting contaminated by any surfaces in the workroom or in the entire library (if you've actually kept the library unoccupied for three days). Bookdrops could be emptied and material from there could also be checked in as long as it has been locked for at least three days.
The key to the three-day rule is not having any new exposed person or object coming into the space. So, if you have staff working in the library during closures, it will be important to follow the CDC Guidelines about sanitizing surfaces keeping 6-feet apart from other people.
But let's go a little deeper on that 6-foot rule. What staying 6 feet apart accomplishes is that it ensures that when you sneeze, your sneeze droplets don't smack your workmate in the face or anywhere else that might end up infecting them. And vice versa. But the 6-foot rule doesn't really address the airborne virus.
Going back to that NY Times article, they cite two more articles. One, entitled "Aerodynamic Characteristics and RNA Concentration of SARS-COV-2 Aerosol in Wuhan Hospitals during COVID-19 Outbreak" is not yet published. The other, published March 4, 2020 entitled "Air, Surface Environmental, and Personal Protective Equipment Contamination by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrom Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) From a Symptomatic Patient." These two articles address the degree to which the virus stays in the air. The second article focuses on conditions in hospitals where people are very sick and explains why the need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our medical professionals is so important. It has some scary findings but they aren't all that pertinent to our library situation assuming you aren't letting anyone come into the library who is showing ANY symptoms.
But even the first article, which addresses how long potentially dangerous particles stay in the air. Based on the doctor who downplayed the danger the least, Dr. Marr, it takes the virus about 34 minutes to fall from a height of six feet (sneeze height for your tallest staff?). So, while they don't think airborne transmission is likely, there haven't been enough studies to say it isn't happening at all. That's how I read the studies anyway!
Given that...how many people would you want working in your backroom checking in books? Probably just one is my answer!
Summary: If I were running a library, I would be quarantining my material for three days and also quarantining the check-in room for three days. After three days at least, I might send one person per shift to catch up on the backlog so when we start returning to normal, you don't have to start with a huge pile of returns to contend with. If this goes on long enough this cycle could be repeated. Accept returns for some number of days and then lock the bookdrops, quarantine everything again for three days and check them in again.
I won't address check-outs in this blog post because I don't see any way to safely do that today unless you only check-out previously quarantined material. But even if you limit check-outs to "clean" material, we probably don't want to encourage people to come out of their "shelter" right now. Feel free to offer up your ideas on our Discussion Forum. I'd love to hear what you've learned that I've missed!
UPDATE MARCH 24,2020: Per this study, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm?s_cid=mm6912e3_w, the virus may be surviving much longer than 3 days on certain surfaces so a safe quarantine period is very much in question at this point. We will continue to post updates on this topic at https://quarantinelibrarianship.org/tags/safety.
Dec 5, 2019
It's been awhile since something shook up the library RFID marketplace but this is something to watch. Smartrac,Technologies, based in the Netherlands, is one of the primary suppliers of library RFID tags (HF tags). One Equity Partners is the equity firm that owns Smartrac. One Equity Partners is the same firm that owns Bibliotheca. So, that means that One Equity Partners is getting out of the RFID business. My question is whether that means One Equity Partner will soon want to get out of the library business as well? I say this because Bibliotheca was originally very much focused on providing RFID solutions to libraries. Of course, with the acquisition of 3M, they have shifted their focus from RFID (to some extent) to the Cloud Library and more recently they've been pushing their Open Library product pretty hard - neither of these two products are RFID-based. So maybe I'm worrying for nothing. But I'll be keeping an eye on One Equity Partners just in case.
The other worrying thing for me is that HF RFID technology isn't exploding the way UHF technology is. HF technology is used in payment cards, ticketing systems, and libraries. NFC (used on your smartphone) is a form of HF RFID. But it is UHF that is growing by leaps and bounds. UHF RFID is used with IoT products (Internet of Things) including clothing and shoes (https://www.nanalyze.com/2019/02/smart-shoes-digitally-connected/). And, of course, UHF is the RFID tag used in the supply chain. Whatever cool new "smart" thing you hear about, chances are it is based on UHF technologies.
Jul 15, 2019
Jun 10, 2019
Followers of our blog know that we're big fans of the Institute for Museum and Library Science (IMLS) library survey data releases -- these are the most comprehensive sources of data about public libraries in the United States. So we were very excited this week to see that the FY2017 survey results have been released on the IMLS.gov website!
Not sure how to get started analyzing PLS data? Check out this video where we introduce the data included in the survey and associated documentation.
Jun 5, 2019
Two Galecia clients (possibly more!) are now offering mobile hotspots that patrons can borrow. These hotspots come with an unlimited plan so you can take them anywhere and get connected to the Internet. Both libraries report the new service is wildly popular!
Sonoma County Library (https://sonomalibrary.org/) has 500 units available. Their program, SonomaFi, is a pilot program so far. Funded from Measure Y sales tax funds. The service provider is Verizon. Each hotspot is available for 14 days and if the borrower neglects to return it, the service is deactivated (which evidently helps get the units returned promptly!)
Sonoma County has also created an excellent video showing patrons how to use their HotSpots - check out the nice cases that are included! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AawPH22CibE&feature=youtu.be
Charleston County (https://www.ccpl.org) is offering the same program but with service from Sprint. So far no groovy videos. Their program is courtesy of a grant from the South Carolina State Library.
Apr 9, 2019
When a disaster strikes, information can be just as valuable as water, power, or critical supplies! Learn more about how your library can provide information and access following a disaster.
Providing Public Internet Access At The Library
One of the most critical requirements after a disaster is the restoration of communications with the outside world, and these days, that means the Internet. While first responders, whether at the local, state, or federal level, may have their own data and communications infrastructure, libraries can still provide access for responders, volunteers, and survivors. Internet access is critical after a disaster for:
- filing government disaster benefits claims
- filing insurance claims and other paperwork
- communicating with friends/family outside the disaster zone
- coordinating volunteers and support from outside the disaster zone
Because Internet access is so important during a disaster, it may be necessary to expand opportunities for leveraging the library’s connectivity.
Apr 1, 2019
"Peer analysis" is a tool used in finance, management, and even sports -- and you do it unconsciously all the time. We're simply finding the similar items in a large dataset by one or more dimensions, and then seeing how they compare in other dimensions. In other words, if you're the director of a small library in Ruraltown, Nebraska, you don't want to compare your library's collection numbers to those larger library systems in Omaha and Nebraska.
Mar 22, 2019
A data librarian is a librarian who specializes in helping people find and use data. While I'm not a librarian myself, I do help librarians find and use data, so when I saw this book mentioned on Twitter, I was quick to hop on our local library's OPAC and request a copy. Quick summary: a fantastic introduction to the strategies and tools used by data librarians!