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Book safety, school safety May 21, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I see that the Government re-opening plan for the 8th of June has the following:

Public libraries may open so long as the numbers allowed in are limited, social distancing is observed and there is strict hand-sanitising in place for anyone who goes into the library.

How though does that dovetail with this from Libraries Ireland from late last month:


Handling Physical Library Materials


To ensure the safety of staff and library users, all physical materials will be handled by staff applying physical distancing guidelines. After handling materials, hands should be washed for 20 seconds as per HSE guidelines.

Recommended quarantine period for library physical material


The recommended quarantine period for physical lending material (books, DVDs etc.) at risk of contamination from the COVID-19 virus is 72 hours. For this period, the materials should be placed in boxes, sealed and date marked and where possible, stored in a separate location.

  • Library materials within the library which have not been handled since the closure of libraries on March 12th 2020 are ready for lending as the 72-hour quarantine period has now passed.
  • Library materials that were returned before the closure of libraries on March 12th 2020, and have not been handled, are ready for lending as the 72-hour quarantine period has now passed since the item’s return.
  • Material may be at risk of contamination when returned to the library at any point after the closure of libraries on March 12th 2020, or if they have been handled by library staff following this date. When making an assessment of risk, staff should consider:
    • When was the item returned?
    • When was it last handled?

If staff can confirm that an item has been isolated (i.e. quarantined or not handled) for 72 hours or more, then it can be considered for use in any delivery service that may be feasible.

And what of user and worker safety in all this? Are borrowers meant to quarantine books at home for 72 hours before reading them? Browsing shelves seems to be ore problematic than the reopening guidelines suggest.


But another example of books comes to mind this week too. This in relation to teaching in the UK (and this has a significance here too).

The NEU meanwhile has urged its members to insist on social distancing of 2 metres in schools, though government guidance has acknowledged young children will find it impossible to observe the same rules as adults and advises instead classes of fewer than 15 and well spaced desks.

The NEU guidance says: “Given that the science does not yet show that children do not transmit the virus, the NEU believes that schools should operate in the same way as other workplaces and maintain social distancing in classrooms and in movement around the school.”

The guidance, which is also for members of GMB, Unite and Unison working in schools, provides a comprehensive checklist, including advice on everything from lidded bins to sanitising library books. At one point it says: “It will not be safe to mark children’s books during this period. Will clear instruction be given that no marking should take place and the books should not be taken to and from home/school?”

This isn’t frivolous. This is again a key issue in relation to workers, parents and children. And as for schools… I was talking to a school principal this week about how things will function at primary level in the new school year. Prepare for changes. Big changes. Their take was that we’re looking at students being in perhaps two days a week in classes half the size of what they were. There will be distance teaching, but it will tend to be indirect. In schools every effort will be made to distance teachers and students. But they made the point that many parents, perhaps many more than the Irish media would seem to think, are concerned, for which read deeply anxious, about sending their children back into schools. And those parents have a constitutional right not to send their children in. The idea we’ll be at normality in September is for the birds. Short of vaccine or treatments or extirpation of the virus everything is going to be different.


1. Dearbhla - May 21, 2020

It’ll vary from authority to authority, but where I work we’ll be starting with collection only services. All items currently in libraries are fine, but any returns will be held for 3 days before being actually checked in/handled by staff. Borrowers won’t be browsing, staff will be making selection based on customers requests. We’ll be issuing them after washing hands/wearing gloves/masks etc. We still have to work out all the details but that’s how it is looking.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - May 21, 2020

Thanks a million Dearbhla, to hear from the coalface is much appreciated. So as with everything else, a different sort of library experience to before.


Dearbhla - May 23, 2020

Different sort of experience to be sure. And like everything else, subject to change and review, depending on circumstances.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2020

One good thing is that there’s plans and serious efforts to continue provision of materials. As long as people working there feel secure as regards their safety and health that’s all to the good.

Liked by 1 person

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