REALM Project: Happening Now


Project update: Phase 1 literature review and testing

Phase 1 of the research is focusing on commonly found and frequently handled/circulated materials, especially in U.S. public libraries.

  • A review of published scientific research is underway and will be publicly released. The purpose is to gather and evaluate existing research about SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) related to the following research questions:
  1. How might the virus spread through public library general operations?
  2. How long does the virus survive on material surfaces through environmental attenuation?
  3. How effective are various prevention and decontamination measures that are readily available to public libraries in the near term?
  • A technical testing plan from Battelle detailing how materials will be tested in their lab. This is expected to be released on the site by May 29, 2020.

  • Battelle began the first round of testing of materials on May 13, 2020. Five items commonly found in public libraries, which are also in high circulation and expected to arrive back in public libraries in large volumes were selected for this round. The materials were provided to Battelle by Columbus Metropolitan Library, and the tests will determine the length of time the COVID-19 virus may live on the surface of the materials and the results on this first round are expected to be released in mid-June. The items include:
    • hardcover book, made of buckram cloth
    • softcover book cover
    • pages inside of book
    • plastic protective cover (biaxially oriented polyester film)
    • DVD case

Previous project updates

May 14, 2020: REALM Project Site Launch

REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums (REALM) is a research partnership between OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle to create and distribute science-based information and recommended practices designed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to staff and visitors who are engaging in the delivery or use of museum, library, and archival services.  

Visit for more information on the project, research timeline, and committee members. Project updates and resources will be added to this information hub as they become available.

We encourage you to sign up to receive project updates by email and/or bookmark the project page, as it will be the primary source for housing all program results and resources. You can also follow OCLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for the latest project updates and join the conversation using #REALMproject.