Boston Public Library makes thousands of images available free online

The Boston Public Library has made more than 8,000 photos, ranging from pictures documenting the construction of the McKim library building in Copley Square to 19th-century daguerreotypes, publicly available on Wikimedia Commons, according to library officials.

Read more from The Boston Globe

Children’s librarian Kay Lyons to retire: ‘I found I had a way with children’

Librarian Kay Lyons has journeyed with local children for almost three decades to places like Wonderland, Narnia and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but when she retires in March, it’s her turn. She and her husband, Rick Roy, will take some trips of their own, though never forgetting the joy she’s known.

Read more from the Greenfield Recorder

Amherst council gets go-ahead to use $1M in CPA funds on Jones Library work

In a reversal from earlier in the year, the Community Preservation Act Committee is recommending that the Town Council use $1 million from the account for the proposed build-out of a new special collections room at the Jones Library.

Read more from the Daily Hampshire Gazette

Reverting Back to Step 1, Phase III

By Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory & Development at the MBLC

This week 134 communities in Massachusetts were reported as “high risk” communities by the Department of Public Health. Communities will revert to operations under Step 1 Phase III of the state’s reopening plan after being designated as high risk for three consecutive weeks in the Department of Public Health weekly reports. Reverting back to Step 1 Phase III should have minimal impact on libraries. The most notable change is building capacity being reduced to 40% occupancy. Curbside services are not impacted.

During the fall and winter months it is likely that more communities will revert to Step 1 Phase III due to increased community positivity results. Below are some helpful links and information to help you navigate the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Updates and Information page.

For a definition of “low risk community” and a list of communities not designated as low risk: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-communities-in-step-1-of-phase-iii-not-designated-lower-risk

For an overview of allowable opening activity under Step 2 Phase III: https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-announces-transition-to-step-ii-of-phase-iii-for-lower-risk

Safety Standards and Checklists for Libraries: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/safety-standards-and-checklist-libraries

How community risk levels are determined: https://massgis.maps.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=9f5b8ae8d0e24a1b98c55f704aaa24f3

The latest community level data reporting and risk designation, including map interface: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/community-level-covid-19-data-reporting

Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-communities-in-step-1-of-phase-iii-not-designated-lower-risk#frequently-asked-questions-

When does a community revert from Step 2 of Phase III to Step 1 of Phase III?
A community must revert to Step I of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan, as outlined in the Governor’s COVID-19 Order #51, when the community is designated in the “red” category for three consecutive weekly Department of Public Health weekly reports.

When a community reverts from Step 2 to Step 1, what date is the reversion effective?
The rule changes go into effect the Monday after the data is posted. For example, if a community is red for the third week and the Department of Public Health posts the data on Thursday, then the rules go into effect on the following Monday.

What changes when a community moves from Step 2 to Step 1 of Phase III?
The following types of businesses are prohibited from operating during Step 1 of Phase III: indoor performance venues, roller skating rinks, trampoline parks, obstacle courses, laser tag and escape rooms.

The following types of businesses must reduce capacity to 40% (currently 50%) when operating during Step 1 of Phase III: driving/flight schools, gyms, libraries, museums, arcades, and lower-contact indoor and outdoor recreation businesses. During Step 1, outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings are limited to 50 people.

As always safety considerations for staff and library users are job one. Please remember to contact your local health department when making any decision regarding opening or modifying library building access and any expansion of library services.

Take care and be safe out there!

Update on 11/4/2020 at 3:00pm to clarify that towns were deemed “high risk”.

Special election to be held for book-loving kids

While the adults in their lives head to the polls to choose a president, kids across Massachusetts are being asked to participate in another type of election.

Starting Monday, at www.KidsVoteForBooks.com, young people can choose their favorite books and see if their choices are in the Top 25 when the votes are tallied. Voting is open through Nov. 9.

Read more on Cape Cod Times

Business is booming at Fairhaven, Acushnet libraries

If there’s a service that’s been thriving for municipalities during the pandemic it’s been public libraries.

While internal access to libraries continues to be either very limited or non-existent, use of libraries’ resources, whether physical or digitized, is available and in demand.

Read more on South Coast Today

Project REALM Findings and Their Impact

By Evan Knight, Preservation Specialist at the MBLC

Last week IMLS, OCLC, and their research partner Battelle Labs released updated findings on their library-related research on SARS-CoV-2 through Project REALM. Obviously, these findings can help us to make more informed decisions as many of us ramp up various levels of in-person library services. I’d like to take a few moments to frame their work in the context of larger public safety protocols, summarize their findings so far, and provide links to additional information.

  1. Remember that virus transmission is primarily through the air.^1,2,3 Minimizing risks of virus transmission through materials is obviously a very serious consideration, and one in which the REALM Project is doing great research. Yet any efforts in the continuing development of safe and rigorous approaches materials handling will be lost if we overlook the fundamental importance of minimizing person-to-person interactions and social distancing.
  2. The Commonwealth’s safety protocols provide a reasonable framework to work with.^4   Safety standards for Libraries have been developed by the Commonwealth and can be useful. They were released last month so they’re not new, but if you haven’t considered them yet, they provide a good starting point framework to safety consider issues, with information organized into four topics: social distancing (including mask protocols), enhanced hygiene procedures, staffing & operations policies, and enhanced cleaning & disinfecting.
  3. Project REALM Results and Quarantine for Materials.^5,6,7 Project REALM released three studies and one webinar which provide helpful information as well as new questions; two more studies are planned and findings will be likely released next month. The following table shows the materials tested so far, and the length of time it took until an initial deposit of virus was completely undetectable (below “LOD”) at ‘normal’ room temperature and humidity.^8
REALM Project Testing Summary^9
Material Storage method Number of Days until below LOD
Hardback book cover (buckram cloth) Open air 1
Softback book cover Open air 1
Plastic book covering (biaxially oriented polyester film) Open air 3
Plain paper pages Closed 3
Braille paper pages Closed 4
Glossy paper pages Closed 4
Magazine pages Closed “Trace amounts at 4 days”
Children’s board book pages Closed 4
Archival folders Stacked together 2
DVD case Open air 1
DVD/CD disc Open air 5
Talking book, USB cassettes Open air Over 5
Acrylic display cases/partitions Open air Over 5
Storage bags (flexible low-density polyethylene (LDPE) recycling #4) Open air 5
Storage containers (rigid high-density polyethylene (HDPE), recycling #2) Open air Over 5

It is important to keep in mind that three important questions remain unanswered from REALM testing that impact how to interpret their results:

  • We do not know how much of the virus would be reasonably deposited by an infected person. Does the amount used in the REALM tests reflect an amount that is reasonable in the real world? We don’t know yet.
  • Every virus has a general threshold of ‘viral load’ before exposure results in infection. How many virus particles are necessary to drive a COVID-19 infection, 10 or 10,000? We don’t know yet.
  • Questions about viral load are impacted by the nature of surface transmission. How well does the virus ‘get back out’ from any material when touched; how viable or efficient is the route of potential transmission from surface-to-human?

Over the past several months the MBLC and MLS have been, and will continue to follow quarantining guidance on two fronts in addition to the REALM project:

  • The IMLS in conjunction with the CDC, offering the information that 24 hours for library quarantines for books would be an overly cautious guideline. ^13
  • Specialists in the fields of libraries, archives, and museums focusing on quarantine as a strategy, using REALM data to inform their recommendations. Including The Northeast Document Conservation Center^14 and the National Center for Preservation Technology & Training (a division of the National Park Service/US Dept of Interior)^15 provide two such examples, and both recommend that length of quarantine depends on the material. Note, these guidelines tend to be much more cautious than those from public health officials, though they (and Project REALM’s conclusions from Test 3)^16 suggest that wiping or disinfecting plastics may be a good complementary approach to general materials quarantine.

Now, how might you use all this information to further develop your in-person reopening plans? First, I think it’s important to remember that CDC, OSHA, and Mass DPH don’t focus on quarantine of materials as a primary strategy to stop viral spread. ^10,11,12 Their guidelines for safety tend to strongly emphasize personal hygiene, social distancing, and disinfection of “high-touch” materials (like doorknobs, handrails, etc.).

The MBLC and MLS acknowledge that each library’s mission, staff, and community needs have unique characteristics that make it very difficult to point to one-size-fits-all guidance in any of these areas. With specific regard to quarantining as a strategy, it is particularly difficult because public health expert guidance doesn’t devote as much attention to it as REALM and library/archive/museum specialists, so there are multiple viewpoints, none of which are ‘wrong.’

In the end, questions of quarantine, as with other issues in reopening, rely on your informed judgement, in coordination with your local health officials. Please reach out to us with questions.

Footnotes:

  1. “How COVID-19 Spreads.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  2. “Frequently asked questions about COVID-19.” Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health, https://www.mass.gov/info-details/frequently-asked-questions-about-covid-19 (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  3. “How to Protect Yourself and Others.” CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  4. “Safety Standards and Checklist: Libraries.” Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, https://www.mass.gov/info-details/safety-standards-and-checklist-libraries and https://www.mass.gov/doc/phase-iii-step-1-libraries-checklist/download (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  5. “Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Information Hub: A COVID-19 Research Project.” WebJunction, https://www.webjunction.org/explore-topics/COVID-19-research-project.html (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  6. “REALM Project: Happening Now.” WebJunction, https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/realm-happening-now.html (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  7. “REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums: Materials Testing and Resource Overview.” WebJunction, https://www.webjunction.org/events/webjunction/realm-testing-resource-overview.html (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  8. Three important questions remain unanswered from REALM testing each of which impact how to interpret their results: 1. We do not know how much of the virus would be reasonably deposited by an infected person. Does the amount used in the REALM tests reflect an amount that is reasonable in the real world? We don’t know yet. 2. Every virus has a general threshold of ‘viral load’ before exposure results in infection. How many virus particles are necessary to drive a COVID-19 infection, 10 or 10,000? We don’t know yet. 3. Questions about viral load are impacted by the nature of surface transmission. How well does the virus ‘get back out’ from any material when touched; how viable or efficient is the route of potential transmission from surface-to-human?
  9. REALM Project Results. Round 1, https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/test1-results.html. Round 2, https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/test2-results.html. Round 3, https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/test3-results.html. All retrieved 8/25/2020.
  10. “Guidance on Returning to Work.” United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4045.pdf (retrieved 8/25/2020). Also, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.
  11. “What Mail and Parcel Delivery Drivers Need to Know about COVID-19.” CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/mail-parcel-drivers.html (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  12. “Safety Standards and Checklist: Libraries.” Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, https://www.mass.gov/info-details/safety-standards-and-checklist-libraries and https://www.mass.gov/doc/phase-iii-step-1-libraries-checklist/download (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  13. “Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections.” Institute for Museum and Library Services, https://www.imls.gov/webinars/mitigating-covid-19-when-managing-paper-based-circulating-and-other-types-collections (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  14. “Preservation Leaflets: Emergency Management: Disinfecting Books and Other Collections.” Northeast Document Conservation Center, https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-management/3.5-disinfecting-books (retrieved 8/25/2020).
  15. “Cultural Resources and COVID-19.” United States Department of Interior, National Parks Service, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/cultural-resources-and-covid-19/ and https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/download/49420/  (retrieved 8/25/2020). Other resources from NCPTT include a series of webinars called “Covid-19 Basics:” “Disinfecting Cultural Resources” (https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/covid-19-basics-disinfecting-cultural-resources/), “Re-Entry to Cultural Sites” (https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/covid-19-basics-re-entry-to-cultural-sites/), and “Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)” (https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/covid-19-basics-personal-protective-equipment-ppe/).
  16. “REALM Project Test 3 Results Available.” WebJunction, https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/test3-results.html (retrieved 8/25/2020).

Disinfectant, Gloves And Quarantined Books: How Massachusetts Libraries Are Coping As They Slowly Reopen

The public library in Franklin has been loaning books for 230 years — the town boasts the first continuous public-lending library in the nation. It was founded in 1790 with a donation of books from Benjamin Franklin. But when the pandemic hit, like all other libraries in the state, the Franklin library closed its doors — leaving patrons like long-time resident Safdar Mahmud eagerly awaiting its return.

“I’m a teacher. … So, for me, libraries are very important,” Mahmud said. “Just to have the distinction of Franklin being one of those historical places — there’s even books in there that were sent by [Benjamin] Franklin, and some of the original books going back to the early 1700s are actually housed in there.”

Read more from WGBH