Recently shared on Facebook is a fascinating video of a library cleaning every item returned to the Children's Department. I watched it in awe - wow, who has the time and staff to do all of that cleaning? (Here's the video, if you would like to see it.)
But what a great idea! If you don't have the staff, it would be a good volunteer project. It doesn't require many resources, just half water/half rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and reusable towels. Squeaky clean books will make any collection much more attractive. And viruses can last on books (especially the plastic covers) for days, depending on what virus it is.
It isn't surprising to see someone bring their kid too sick for school to the library... And, being a parent of young kids, I am learning that kids can be contagious *before* symptoms appear. In my house, we dodged the Flu, but succumbed to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. So, even being a responsible guardian, sometimes, you just don't know.
Another area that I wonder about -- if your library has a play area with toys, how often do you clean it? I thought when I had kids, I would be visiting the play area every rainy day. Now, I actively avoid it during flu season. (If you don't wash the toys often, please, please, please offer a "To Wash" bucket where parents can put toys that their little ones have put into their mouthes to be washed.) Another idea to simplify the process is to buy a UV cabinet (or UV wand) and use the light to sterilize the toys.
Ah, the library... Where you can get books, movies, and viruses for free! Just kidding. Actually, according to this article from Mental Floss, while books do hold minuscule amounts of viruses, the risk of patrons getting infected is very low. So, no guilt if you don't clean!
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