COVID-19 Library Reopening & Resource Sharing/Courier Safety Concerns

MOBIUS has been in discussions with our consortia peers both in the midwest and across the country on what best practices various groups are taking into consideration as their courier systems come back online. The following is a summary derived from these conversations and sources listed throughout the document and at the bottom of this page.  

The Missouri Libraries Reopening Guidelines from the Secretary of State’s office can be found at  Resources to help with this plan and other aspects of COVID-19 can be found at the Missouri Public Library Director’s COVID-19 LibGuide at   

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your MOBIUS Courier Team at  


STAT Courier will follow all guidelines laid out for the public.  All drivers will be given masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to use while performing their duties.  Library staff will not be required to sign for deliveries going forward.


Protect Your Employees and Volunteers

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has released guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19. It’s reasonable to classify library workers who interact with the public as being at Medium Exposure Risk. OSHA recommends that such employees may need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) “some combination of gloves, a gown, a face mask, and/or a face shield or goggles.” In addition (at service desks, for instance), employers should “install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, where feasible.”

Key Points:

  • The safety of your library's staff members, volunteers, and patrons is paramount. Please take protection guidelines seriously.
  • Consider easing/staging into full-service mode. Perhaps provide “takeout” or curbside service, or schedule protected access hours to your building for vulnerable individuals, including elderly and those with underlying health concerns (much the way some retailers do).
  • Consider reduced public hours, allowing for shelving activity when patrons are not actively moving throughout the library.
  • Ensure staff members and volunteers interacting with the public and handling library materials have protective gear: gloves and masks. If your library can’t yet procure those supplies, then it may be a sign that it is still too soon to re-open.
  • Every library operates under local control, so use situational, thoughtful decision making based on facts.

Staff should be directed to wear gloves when moving items into quarantine (a dedicated space for materials to sit untouched) and to remove the gloves immediately afterwards so as not to accidentally touch anything else (like door handles). After removing the gloves, staff should wash their hands for 20 seconds, following CDC guidelines

If a dedicated quarantine space cannot be established, staff can either leave items in bags or place them in a separate container until they can be addressed appropriately by staff.


BEFORE opening your library building, FULLY READ the CDC’s guidance on “Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.” ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html.

Please take the time to read this carefully.

Key Points:

  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
  • Coronaviruses are quite susceptible to many household and commercial disinfectants, including products like Clorox wipes. Please use them. Not every cleaning product is certified effective against viruses.
  • The EPA’s “List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2” is a good resource:‚Ķ


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last month reported, “Generally coronaviruses survive for shorter periods at higher temperatures and higher humidity than in cooler or dryer environments. However, we don’t have direct data for this virus, nor do we have direct data for a temperature-based cutoff for inactivation at this point. The necessary temperature would also be based on the materials of the surface, the environment, etc.” Project REALM's test 1 results “show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the materials after three days of quarantine. The evaluation demonstrates that standard office temperature and relative humidity conditions typically achievable by any air-conditioned office space provide an environment that allows for the natural attenuation of SARS-CoV-2 present on these common materials after three days of quarantine.”

Key Points:

  • Consider a staged, “quarantine zone” where materials can be disinfected (when reasonable).
  • If disinfecting mountains of material is impractical, or back-office space is a concern, consider utilizing a public meeting room, or even renting one or more Portable Storage Containers (think: PODS) where these items can be staged and secured for many days. Viruses are not known to live for very long outside of a “host,” so even a 24-hour quarantine of material significantly reduces the likelihood of viability for transmission.
  • Ensure staff members handling library materials have protective gear such as gloves and masks. If your library can’t yet procure those supplies, then that may be a sign it’s too soon to open.  
  • A January, 2020 study in the Journal of Hospital Infection reported that coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2, the one responsible for COVID-19, can persist on some inanimate surfaces (such as metal, glass, and plastic) for as long as nine days and on paper for four or five days.
  • A consensus has not formed on how long the COVID-19 virus remains active on various surfaces.
  • We will continue to look for guidance from all appropriate governing bodies regarding the specific length of time and actions required when it comes to the handling of materials.  


Do not attempt to disinfect archival materials, museum objects, or other valuable collections unless under the guidance of a conservator. 

The use of liquid disinfectants is harmful to library and archives materials and is not recommended. UV ray exposure as a means of sterilization is also not recommended. Not only are UV rays harmful to the materials, but in correspondence on the Preservation Administrators’ Interest Group list-serv, the Chair of the American Institute for Conservation Health and Safety Committee indicated that 40 minutes of exposure at high doses is required to kill bacteria using UV rays, and this will not disinfect the places that the UV rays miss during exposure. 

Plastic tubs or totes should be wiped down with a disinfectant regularly.


Missouri Secretary of State Reference Services 

CLiC - Returning to Service:  Libraries & COVID-19 

NEDCC (Northeast Document Conservation Center) Disinfecting Books and Other Collections 

The Impact of Hand Sanitizers on Collection Materials 

CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Coronavirus Disease 2019 

How to Sanitize Collections in a Pandemic

Handling Library Materials and Collections During a Pandemic 

Project REALM