In response to inquiries received from various sources connected to the Wisconsin library community, the Division for Libraries and Technology (DLT) reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) for guidance on the handling and circulation of library materials during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to contact DHS at this time was based on the recent advice released by the State Library of Oregon, in response to concerns about independent interpretation of the results of the REALM project, whose research has provided information about the viability of the virus on library materials, but has not provided specific recommendations on materials handling.
Upon review of the guidance provided by the State Library of Oregon, advice from the experts at the Oregon Health Authority, and review of the REALM test results, Wisconsin DHS agreed with the Oregon Health Authority’s interpretation that a 24-hour quarantine time would be sufficient as a precautionary measure.
DLT acknowledges that these recommendations are intended to assist libraries in making local decisions about handling and circulating materials safely. Regional and local conditions should be taken into account when considering changes to current materials handling and delivery practices. We strongly encourage local libraries to communicate with their public library systems prior to making such changes, as systems may need time to prepare for logistical challenges brought on by an influx of circulating materials.
Libraries can continue to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by following the safety protocols of mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, increased cleaning; by avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth; and by limiting in-person services and reducing occupancy within their facilities.
The Wisconsin Public Libraries Reopening Guide will be edited to include this updated information this week.
Submitted by the Libraries Team, DLT