How Libraries Are Responding to the Coronavirus Threat and How Your Library Can Prep for Any Crisis

COVID-19 Infection Prevention Tips for Libraries

Here are some key tips for libraries who are offering limited services in a pandemic. These tips have been developed by a team of dedicated public library staff. First are some Basics.

The MOST important thing is to NOT TOUCH YOUR FACES while working. This stops the virus ending up where it can gain access to your body.

Staff who wear glasses and put them on and off frequently need to be very conscious of this. Wherever possible try to keep your glasses in one position.

Do not use your mobile phone while working as you are bringing it to your face and this can transfer the virus to your body.

Using soap and water for a 20-second handwash is the best method of decontaminating your hands. If it is not easily available, use hand sanitiser and rub in until dry. Wash your hands frequently.

Social distancing must be adhered to in all work areas. Posters display how many staff can be in each part of the staff work areas based on the recommended 4 meters per person. This includes the lunch rooms. Staff must abide by these limits.

Next up is Glove Etiquette

Gloves are only useful if they do not touch you or your face, your pocket, or your phone.

Only use gloves to handle books when working at the ‘empty the book chute’ workstation. This is considered a ‘dirty’ station as the virus is known to stay on plastic and paper surfaces.

After each shift and before breaks keep your gloves on. Spray them with disinfectant then spray down your workstation and wipe after 10 seconds with paper towel. Wipe trolley handles that you have used with disinfectant-soaked paper towel. Then you can remove your gloves.

Take the gloves off and wash/sanitise your hands before touching any other items, including yourself.

It is important to take gloves off correctly so the outside of the glove does not touch your skin. Illustration below shows you how to remove gloves correctly.

Dispose of used gloves carefully in a rubbish bin.

In developing the safety standards for re-opening our after hours service the decision has been to implement the upper end of safety advice in the handling of book returns. Here are the guidelines being implemented for handling all physical items returned through our return chutes. Further advice for libraries managing infection control has been developed by the Western Australian Department of Health and can be found here

Returns and Quarantining items

The decision for our library service is that all return items will be quarantined for 72 hours after being returned. Two workstations are designated and social distancing in the returns areas must be adhered to. This will differ at each Branch Library.

Workstation 1. Empty the chute. Staff must wear gloves. Put returned items onto a trolley. Staff will interact minimally with other staff during their empty the chute shift. The trolley is labelled with the date and moved to the designated quarantine area.

Workstation 2. Discharge items after quarantine. This station is glove free. Staff process the reservations as normal and place items in transit to other branches in designated courier boxes. Returns for reshelving are placed on the designated shelving trolley and reshelved. All courier boxes can be processed at this station as all will have been through the quarantine process before being packed.

Please note that for a Shelving shift gloves are not required.

At this stage our libraries will only be open for a Click and Collect service and staff Desk shifts offer telephone help line only. There is currently no face to face service with the public offered. These tips have been developed for this type of service.

Workstation 3. Desk Shifts. This station is glove free. Wash hands/sanitise before and after your desk shift. Designate a work station for the rostered staff member for entire desk shift. There is to be no sharing of work stations during desk shifts. Wipe the work area/keyboard/mouse/telephone handset with disinfectant after your desk shift to ensure it is clean for the next shift.

Click and collect service has been set up in library foyers with self check machines installed. There is to be no staff to public interaction in this area and this area is a fully self serve area. Posters promoting good hand hygiene to the public are on display. Posters designating the number of people allowed in the space are also prominately displayed on the doors. The area is closed for one hour during the day for cleaning of the self check machine and restocking of the shelves with the click and collect items. Reservation notices are sent twice a day. Patrons have a designated help line they can ring if there is a problem with their membership or their card is not working on the self check machine.

Workstation 4. Click and Collect . Gloves must be worn by staff in this area, for all activities. Staff are to practice the required Glove etiquette as above.

For more on how Australian Libraries are responding to Covid-19 the Australian Library and Information Association have compiled resources and case studies here.

Librarian, interested in libraries, digital disruption, startups, Australian politics

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