As the Westport Library begins to expand its services with curbside pickup and home delivery of materials, the question of how to transfer Library materials back and forth safely is on everyone’s mind. It can be a challenge to find definitive answers, as sources and research can be conflicting. Below you’ll find a roundup of the research on how to quarantine materials and the steps the Library will be taking to follow the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Library Association (ALA), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the New England Journal of Medicine.

How will the Library work to ensure that books and other materials are safe?

The easiest, safest, and most inexpensive disinfectant is time. A study published as a correspondence in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 17, 2020 shows that COVID-19 will persist on cardboard surfaces for 24 hours and on plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours. Based on this research, an appropriate quarantine time for books covered in polyester (e.g. Mylar) or other plastics, as well as plastic-based materials such as CDs and DVDs, is 72 hours. 

Based on the above, the Library will begin the quarantine process with returned materials in the Annex outside the Library for 3 days to prevent the virus from being brought into the Library. The bins in the Annex will be dated to reflect the date they were filled. After the 3 days the materials will be moved to the Komansky room where they will be quarantined for 3 days without any exposure to items that have not yet been quarantined. After the 3 days, materials will be checked in and removed from the patron's account.  

All new materials the Library receives from vendors will be quarantined for 72 hours from the date they were packed into the boxes. 

Staff will wear gloves and masks when working with quarantined materials. 

Will the Library be wiping materials down with disinfectants?

The use of liquid disinfectants is harmful to library materials and is not recommended. There’s also evidence to suggest that it may be a misperception that spraying or wiping the outside of a book with Lysol, alcohol, or bleach is sufficient to kill the virus across the entire volume. Instead of using disinfectants, the Library will expose materials, while in the Komansky room, to UVC light which has been proven to kill 99% of germs both on surfaces and in the air. 

How do I ensure that it is safe to carry my materials into my house?

Staff who pull your materials and staff who bring the materials to your car will wear masks and gloves. As an additional precaution, you may choose to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after removing books from your car. This is in line with CDC recommendations for dealing with packages or collecting your mail.

Should patrons quarantine materials they get from the Library?

We have extended the loan periods for materials so that patrons may, if they chose, quarantine materials once they receive them.

What will the impact of the quarantine be on the availability of materials?

The circulation cycle will be longer as a result of implementing the new safety measures. Loan periods have been lengthened. Once materials are returned, they will be quarantined for three days before the items are checked in. Finally, when an item is requested, it will take time for the item to be pulled from the collection and then patrons have a further 4 days to collect the materials after being notified that the materials are available for pickup.

Digital materials will continue to be available for speedy circulation: http://westportlibrary.libguides.com/DigitalCollection/eBooks

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