MLA Recommends 96 Hour Quarantine

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July 23, 2020

The quarantining of library materials in response to COVID-19 has been of utmost importance to the field and we here in Michigan, along with the rest of the country, have been awaiting federal guidance.  

Since early May, the REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums (REALM) project has been studying how long COVID-19 survives on common materials that are loaned by libraries. The study is being conducted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and OCLC in partnership with Battelle, who are creating and distributing science-based information designed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to staff and visitors who are engaging in the delivery or use of museum, library, and archival services.

Two phases (or tests) have been conducted to date that provides information on how long some commonly handled library materials would generally need to be quarantined in order for the virus to be undetectable. The studies were conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus on five materials held at standard room temperature (68°F to 75°F) and humidity conditions (30 to 50 percent), and mimicked common storage conditions such as stacked or shelved books, or a pile of folders or magazines.

Test 1 

Test 1 results were released on June 22, 2020, and included the following: 

  1. Hardback book cover (buckram cloth) – after 3 days the virus was not detectable 

  2. Paperback book cover – after 3 days the virus was not detectable 

  3. Plain paper pages inside a closed book – after 3 days the virus was not detectable 

  4. Plastic book covering (bi-axially oriented polyester film) – after 3 days the virus was not detectable 

  5. DVD case – after 3 days the virus was not detectable 

Results show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the materials after three days (72 hours) of quarantine.

Test 2

Test 2 results were released on July 20, 2020, and included the following items: 

  1. Braille paper pages – after 4 days the virus was not detectable 

  2. Glossy book pages – after 4 days the virus was not detectable 

  3. Magazine pages – after 4 days, trace amounts of the virus were detectable 

  4. Children’s board book – after 4 days the virus was not detectable 

  5. Archival folders – after 2 days the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable 

Compared to the results of Test 1, the results of Test 2 indicate that a longer quarantine time for these types of cellulose-based paper materials may be required to render SARS-CoV-2 undetectable.

To keep patrons and staff safe from the continued spread of the coronavirus, MLA, along with our Michigan Library Cooperatives are recommending that all Michigan libraries quarantine items for 4 days (96 hours).

Download the Test 2 Report [PDF]

Testing of additional materials is underway. The details of items being tested in sets 4 and 5 as well as the results of Test Set 3, are expected by early August.


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