Is it necessary to sanitize books and other materials upon their return to prevent the transfer of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19?

Disinfecting collection items for SARS-CoV-2 virus risks damage to materials and is not recommended. Quarantining materials that have been handled by staff and visitors is the most effective way to disinfect items without risk to collections. If space for quarantine is limited, items can be placed in bags until after the quarantine period is over to prevent direct handling of the items. However, bags should not be sealed tightly in order to prevent microclimates that could cause damage to items.

The length of the quarantine period depends on the type of collection materials. SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to lose viability more quickly on cardboard surfaces than on plastic surfaces (e.g. polyester, Mylar, or other plastics used to cover books and cases for CDs and DVDs). The REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) project, is currently conducting scientific research on collection-specific materials and can provide information on quarantine decisions: REALM project - REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (OCLC).

For more information on disinfecting books visit: Disinfecting Books and Other Collections (NEDCC). 

Several organizations have also compiled helpful resources for libraries responding to the pandemic:


Last Updated: Feb 11, 2021
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