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Returned library books will now be quarantined for 4 days

Eileen Buckley

You may have to wait another day to get a book from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, because that beach read you want is still in quarantine. The concern is a returned book might carry the coronavirus.

When the library system emerged from the long lockdown and began to put books back on the shelves, the decision was made that every book when it was returned would be quarantined for three days. If a book carried the virus, that time would be enough safety for the next reader.

Library system Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said an alliance of  library groups, the REALM Project, has decided four days of quarantine was better.

"The 96-hour quarantine did come out of their Phase 2 study. So we are following the guidelines that are set forth within our industry," Jakubowski said.

How does that impact overdue fines?

"There is a notice on the borrower's record that indicates that, and we want people to be aware overdue fines we appreciate and we certainly look to that revenue, but right now, we understand the circumstances and we cannot stress enough that no overdue fines and fees are being accumulated on materials that are being returned on time during that quarantine period," she said.

Jakubowski said there are plenty of books, since the staff has been able to work through the backlog from the shutdown. Books now go on the shelves when they are delivered and processed so they can be read in this last gasp of the COVID summer.

"Our goal is, of course, to be a part of the solution and not a contributor to the problem in our community," Jakubowski said.

REALM is still working through testing all of the array of materials present in the modern library.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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