9/4/2020 Update: Required Materials and Tub Quarantine Period Increased to 7 Days Effective Immediately

Published 9/4/2020 06:30 PM CT

IHLS Members,

Good afternoon. It is with disappointment that we are writing to you so soon after the quarantine increase to 5 days. Yesterday, a statewide discussion was held between Illinois Heartland Library System, Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), the Consortium for Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), and the Illinois State Library (ISL). After considering the results of the most recent REALM Project test from OCLC and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as other considerations, our group of agencies determined the need to agree to a statewide standard quarantine period and to jointly increase this period to 7 days. This quarantine period will allow IHLS and RAILS to continue providing delivery services, albeit in a less-than-ideal fashion. 

During the REALM Project's test 4, researchers reexamined the materials studied in test 1. This time, scientists placed the materials in a stacked arrangement to mimic library and museum conditions, such as shelved books. According to the test 4 conclusions:  

  • Results show that after six days of quarantine the SARS-CoV-2 virus was still detected on all five materials tested. When compared to Test 1, which resulted in nondetectable virus after three days on an unstacked hardcover book, softcover book, plastic protective cover, and DVD case, the results of Test 4 highlight the effect of stacking and its ability to prolong the survivability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

For additional information about the REALM Project study, including the reports for tests 1, 2, 3, and 4, please visit OCLC's REALM Project homepage.

This test did not answer all of our questions, such as those regarding the transmissibility of the virus after 6 days, and we are hoping that future research will shed light on the answers. Until then, IHLS and our group of agencies believe that at this point in time a 7-day materials and tub quarantine is the best way for us to work with libraries to keep library staff and patrons safe and to help slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. You can find more information, including the updated Guidelines for Safe IHLS Delivery Service, on our website. The updated Materials & Tub Handling Procedures poster can also be found both on the webpage. Please be sure to update your staff on the 7-day quarantine time.

We have said all along that you should feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. At this point, enough libraries have questions and concerns that we plan to hold a special meeting to discuss the quarantine and what we can all do. More information on this meeting will be available next week. Please stay tuned. 

As a reminder of additional precautions IHLS is taking in our hubs, we are currently: 

  • taking the temperature of all staff members before they enter the building,
  • requiring masks for both the sorters and the drivers,
  • having hand washing breaks every 30 minutes,
  • spraying the outside of the tubs with disinfectant, giving special attention to the high touch areas including handles and lids, 
  • following the guidance from the CDC as well as the guidance from the REALM study, and
  • continuing to reevaluate our policies and procedures.

As I'm sure you'll agree, we look forward to a time of less frequent changes. Meanwhile, we look forward to continuing our partnership.


Leslie Bednar, Executive Director 

Ellen Popit, Associate Director 

Susan Palmer, Director of Operations