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REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM): A COVID-19 Research Project

As libraries and museums around the country begin to resume operations and reopen facilities to the public, there is need for clear information to support the handling of core museum, library, and archival materials.   

OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle are conducting research on how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums. The project will draw upon the research to produce authoritative, science-based information on how—or if— materials can be handled to mitigate exposure to staff and visitors.

To achieve these goals, the REALM project will:

  • Collect, review, and summarize authoritative research that applies to materials commonly found in the collections and facilities of archives, libraries, and museums
  • Ongoing consultation and engagement with a project steering committee, working groups, and other subject matter experts from archives, libraries, and museums
  • Laboratory testing of how COVID-19 interacts with a selection of materials commonly found in archives, libraries, and museums; and identifying methods of handling and remediation
  • Synthesize the above inputs into toolkit resources that support reopening and operational considerations
  • Share project information and toolkit resources through the project website and amplified by member associations and support organizations that serve archives, libraries, and/or museums.
To learn more about the project activities, review the project research and access resources, please visit the REALM site at



This site synthesizes various studies and data; however, the scientific understanding regarding COVID-19 is continuously evolving. This material is being provided for informational purposes only, and readers are encouraged to review federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance. The authors, sponsors, and researchers are not liable for any damages resulting from use, misuse, or reliance upon this information, or any errors or omissions herein.