Is it time to consider what your church library will do about the coronavirus. It is becoming a real issue, and some of us are in the most vulnerable population (60+). Let's not forget how germ-laden books can be. 
 
At our church we are considering the following procedure. We know the medical community is learning new things every day, so this approach may already be obsolete. Here it is:
 
We are calling our "safe" time  frame a week. As we all learn more, you might need to amend the "safe" time. 
 
1) Start by using the common-sense sanitizing procedures that have been widely recommended: wash your hands frequently; wipe down your computer keyboards, scanners, screens, desks, etc.; cover coughs and sneezes.  
 
2) The vast majority of the books on our shelves have not been checked out in the last  week. We can consider them as "safe."  We can touch, check out and read these materials without concern. 
 
We need, instead, to focus on the problems of our "returned books," those items that we have no certainty of where they have been, which page has been sneezed on, etc. 
 
This procedure is simply a method to avoid touching any item that's been returned until it has been untouched for a "safe" period of time.   
 
3)  Have patrons return their materials to a single collection point for all of today's returns (a separate box marked with the date.)  The staff does not touch any of the returned items yet.  
 
4) At the end of the day, wearing rubber gloves, we check IN all the items in the box, and return them to the same box. The box is marked with today's date. The box is then set aside for a week-long quarantine.     
 
5) Each day's returns are treated similarly and stored in a separate, dated box. 
 
6) Nobody touches any of the "quarantined" books for any reason, until the quarantine period (one week) for that box is over.  
 
7) After a box's quarantine period is reached, the books may be safely shelved and checked out again. The box itself can be reused and re-dated.
 
8) No cheating!  The most popular books, most certainly, the one you want to read yourself, will be in one of the quarantine boxes. You may be putting others at risk and are surely at risk yourself if you sneak an early check OUT. 
 
That's our plan. How would you improve on this?

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Such good and helpful advice all. I'm in Ontario Canada. Just talking with our Pastor on actions to take with church library and many will be from helpful suggestions above. I also wondered about hymnals and Bibles we keep routinely for use in sanctuary. Pastor has decided to remove and store the hymnals (we have overhead projector most of time anyway). However we will leave the Bibles as not as many as most people bring their own is wiping and  disinfect cover after use enough? I'd like to know is there a way to fully disinfect books (can't the pages) or is the quarantine time the only best way? They will usually sit untouched between Sundays other than a few at Wednesday Prayer meeting which are much fewer users.  I'm also going in today to put up signage as well as update Library today and this week for Easter theme and new books. We keep a number of books in the nursery and as little ones tend to put things in mouths we are going to remove all but a few and then keep them and toys (also reducing #) disinfected/quarantined after each usage period. Going to also put a bigger central return box right in centre of room along with signage to return all books handled so I can then ensure put out of circulation for required period. We decided too to remove all but one small bin of children's books and then we can again mange and control these fewer ones easier. (we keep children's books in storage bins in library on shelves at floor level.) Our library is self service unless I'm there Sundays before and after church and before and after Wed prayer meetings. I'm working on ways to educate the youth and adults along with the signage. Pastor will make an announcement in church tomorrow too. We are a smaller church of only around 100 each Sunday and library holds about 2500 resources. At this time our Govt is shutting down places of 250 gathering only. It's a fluid situation as we all know and can change at any given moment and may impact smaller gatherings. We want as a church to show we are taking this very seriously around all actions our Govt and medical are recommending. To be a Godly example.  I'm also ensuring hand sanitizer on wall by Library entrance and some smaller ones inside (if we can find as they are getting like gold as are even the larger wall mounted which require refills. I was thinking of Sunday School too as I teach at times and all the many crayons and markers and scissors etc for crafts. Most paper for craft is new and take home. Going to talk to other teachers about only using plastic markers that can be washed and sanitized. Will have to check instructions on that and if ok option. So much to think about and but prayer to our Lord for guidance and deep breathes and calm in the storm as we have Our Heavenly Father guiding His flock. Love to all. Cheryl

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Such good and helpful advice all. I'm in Ontario Canada. Just talking with our Pastor on actions to take with church library and many will be from helpful suggestions above. I also wondered about hymnals and Bibles we keep routinely for use in sanctuary. Pastor has decided to remove and store the hymnals (we have overhead projector most of time anyway). However we will leave the Bibles as not as many as most people bring their own is wiping and  disinfect cover after use enough? I'd like to know is there a way to fully disinfect books (can't the pages) or is the quarantine time the only best way? They will usually sit untouched between Sundays other than a few at Wednesday Prayer meeting which are much fewer users.  I'm also going in today to put up signage as well as update Library today and this week for Easter theme and new books. We keep a number of books in the nursery and as little ones tend to put things in mouths we are going to remove all but a few and then keep them and toys (also reducing #) disinfected/quarantined after each usage period. Going to also put a bigger central return box right in centre of room along with signage to return all books handled so I can then ensure put out of circulation for required period. We decided too to remove all but one small bin of children's books and then we can again mange and control these fewer ones easier. (we keep children's books in storage bins in library on shelves at floor level.) Our library is self service unless I'm there Sundays before and after church and before and after Wed prayer meetings. I'm working on ways to educate the youth and adults along with the signage. Pastor will make an announcement in church tomorrow too. We are a smaller church of only around 100 each Sunday and library holds about 2500 resources. At this time our Govt is shutting down places of 250 gathering only. It's a fluid situation as we all know and can change at any given moment and may impact smaller gatherings. We want as a church to show we are taking this very seriously around all actions our Govt and medical are recommending. To be a Godly example.  I'm also ensuring hand sanitizer on wall by Library entrance and some smaller ones inside (if we can find as they are getting like gold as are even the larger wall mounted which require refills. I was thinking of Sunday School too as I teach at times and all the many crayons and markers and scissors etc for crafts. Most paper for craft is new and take home. Going to talk to other teachers about only using plastic markers that can be washed and sanitized. Will have to check instructions on that and if ok option. So much to think about and but prayer to our Lord for guidance and deep breathes and calm in the storm as we have Our Heavenly Father guiding His flock. Love to all. Cheryl

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I've followed much of the above process suggested by Glenn.  So appreciative. I'm quarantining books for 10 days in between just to be sure. Question: Does anyone know if it's better to keep the quarantined books inside a box with a lid on it OR should the items be open to the air? Just wondered if they are on top of each other inside a box will this delay the virus from dying off? would it be better if the lid is open and the items laid out separately or just that they are laid out separately in a quarantined area? I've seen info on length of time to quarantine on line but not on the best way to do it. Cheryl Subject, Lighthouse Fellowship Baptist, Ontario Canada

Thanks, Tom!! Keep us posted on your developments. Great news!!

You are welcome.   I hope we can keep everyone safe and informed during these unusual times.

We've decided to shut our church library for the time being until further notice. Our services and events have all been cancelled/postponed. We are in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. I have left the books that were recently returned in a specific box for now. 

Our church library has been closed for about a month as well as the church itself.

Thanks for the suggestions on what to do about books that are out and about.

I volunteer in the library and have for 41 years. 

I understand the need to close the library & church and I also believe that this 

will make people appreciate the library even more so, when life gets back to normal.

What if the patron says they would like to renew their books?

When do we sanitize the books?

While they are being checked in or after the quarantine period is over with?

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