Public Libraries Preparing to Reopen: Examples from the Field


The REALM project's primary aim is to create and distribute science-based, authoritative information to inform decisions designed to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19 to staff and visitors who are engaging in the delivery or use of archival, library and museum services. This information includes literature reviews of published scientific research and the results of lab testing on a variety of commonly used materials.

The project is collecting, curating and sharing information and resources produced by other organizations that support plans to resume operations and reopen archives, libraries, and museums. A first collection of examples listed below, and organized under topics commonly addressed in reopening plans. While the documents may reflect specific, local guidance, they may still provide important considerations for organization in other locations. Inclusion in this list does not represent an endorsement by the REALM Project.

The examples collected here are focused on public libraries. Examples from additional types of libraries, archives, and museums will be added during Phase 2 (June – October 2020). If you have a reopening resource or plan to share, please email it to Kem Lang,

Click to jump to the covered sections: Staff and patrons | Facilities and space considerations | Programs and service adaptations | Materials handling and procedures

Staff and patrons

Health and safety

Staff policies

Social distancing guidelines

Facilities and space considerations


Access to facility, spaces, and equipment

Adjusted computer access

Layout modifications

Cleaning protocols

Programs and services adaptations

Restructuring library programs

  • Oak Park Public Library, COVID-19 Response Plan (Services and Programs, listed below each “Service Level”)

Materials handling protocols and procedures

Battelle has begun lab testing of materials. Findings from this research will be posted to the project website when they are available.

The links below are being shared to provide informational examples to help libraries plan while the testing of materials is in progress. Resources continue to be collected, reviewed, and added.

Disinfection and quarantine of library materials



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.