Should Libraries Sanitize Their Books During the Pandemic?

Sanitize Books

Should Libraries Sanitize Their Books During the Pandemic?

Cleaning and caring for library books have always been important considerations in preserving collections. Now, however, COVID-19 introduces new concerns for how to keep both materials and patrons safe. Adding library book sanitization to the standard cleaning procedures is imperative in these unprecedented times.

Why Should Libraries Sanitize Books?

The novel coronavirus is primarily spread via droplets in the air from infected individuals. Even so, there is the potential for it to be transmitted when someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about how long the virus lasts on different types of surfaces. As such, library personnel need to take precautions to reduce the likelihood that patrons will handle a contaminated book.

How Do You Sanitize Books?

Regular disinfectants are typically not an option for any books. At the most, they may be able to be used on books that are covered with polyethylene or polyester, but this process still misses the inside pages. Using ultra-violet light is another possibility. It does, however, come with essentially the same risks as chemical disinfectants.

The best method for library book sanitization is to quarantine the books. This does require keeping books out of circulation for, ideally, 14 days. Then, when patrons begin checking them out again, curbside delivery is recommended. This should be followed by another 14-day quarantine after the books are returned, and before they are available again for checkout.