Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Libraries

Information will be added as the situation for libraries, statewide services and Maine citizens develop and evolve.

MSL- Statewide Coronavirus Conversation

Join Zoom Meeting on August 11, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Meeting ID: 982 0112 448

Archived meeting are in the column to the right.

Maine Library Commission approved COVID-19 Prevention Checklist: Public Library Guidance (May 20, 2020)

Phased Opening of Van Delivery Services - June 2, 2020 (PDF)

  • COVID Delivery Form
  • Phase 1 - June 2-June -19: Delivering FX warehouse items to libraries only.
  • Phase 2 - June 22 - July 10: Picking up totes from libraries.
  • Phase 3- July 13: Resume ILL for consortial borrowing (MILS, MINERVA and URSUS)
  • Phase 2 -July 20: Resume ILL for ARRC borrowing and MaineCat requesting

ILL and Quarantine Guidance - July 10, 2020

Summer 2020 - COVID Interlibrary Loan Quarantining Guidance - (PDF)

Request Cotton Masks - Please fill out a request form.

These cotton masks obtained from MEMA come in packages of 5 and can be used bylibrary staff or made available to patrons. The Maine State Library has a supply of 5,000 to distribute. Info about masks program can be found at the Public Health Emergency website.

Libraries - Open/Closed Status

Please use this new reporting form to report your current closure status. Use the PDF to find your library's ID#.

Viewable web display of public library closure status, staffing and services. The status of your library as open or closed will change as you update this form.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 closure information. This is an excel spreadsheet with public libraries. Additioanlly, your library's open/closed status is also visible via the MSL Public Library Directory.

Guidance on Contact Tracing (June 24, 2020)

"Libraries should not feel compelled to gather data from patrons entering the building for contact tracing purposes unless a library staff person has been in close proximity (less than 6 ft.) of a patron or vendor
for more than 15 minutes." Read more in the PDF.

Materials Safety-Guidance for Libraries

Updated (July 22, 2020) We are working on updated guidance based upon the REALM Phase 2 results.

Guidance from the Maine CDC, Division of Medical Epidemiology, Maine State Library and REALM Project)

Quarantine returned library materials for a minimum of 72 hours

June 30: Powerpoint Presentation to COSLA (Chief Officers of State Library Agencies) on the REALM Project and Phase I Findings. PPT PDF

Library lendable items are a made of a variety of materials and the latest literature and Phase 1 REALM results indicate that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Let library materials quarantine for 72 hours. Time is the best sanitizer. Books and other library materials that have been on library shelves, in a drop box, in a bag or in a tote and not touched in the 72 hours should be safe to handle but continue to remind library workers to not touch their face and practice hand hygiene, especially after handling materials handled by others.

Testing was conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) on five materials held at standard room temperature and humidity conditions.

REALM Project Phase 1 Results (June 22,2020)

Summary:The materials tested included the following items:

  1. Hardback book cover (buckram cloth)
  2. Softback book cover
  3. Plain paper pages inside a closed book
  4. Plastic book covering (biaxially oriented polyester film)
  5. DVD case.

REALM Project Phase 2 Results (July 20, 2020)

Summary: Test 2 included the following five items. Results in this group were varied.

After four days of quarantine in their stacked configuration, the virus was not detectable on the braille pages, glossy book pages, and board book. (1), (2), (4)  

The magazine pages showed a trace amount of virus at four days. Day four was the final timepoint tested.(3)  

After two days of quarantine in a stacked configuration, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the archival folders.(5)

  1. Braille paper pages
  2. Glossy paper pages
  3. Magazine pages
  4. Children’s board book
  5. Archival folders

See REALM Project information at Webjunction. IMLS COVID-19 Research Partnership to Inform Safe Handling of Collections, Reopening Practices for Libraries, Museums: IMLS, OCLC, and Battelle will also engage a steering committee drawn from the museum and library fields with the goal of understanding and mitigating the impact of the virus. Together, they will help support the curation and development of information on how to handle materials, training, and cleaning in support of safely reopening and sustaining operations under a COVID-19 reality. Library materials being tested by Battelle.

Other resources about life of the virus:


Reopening Plans: Resources for Libraries

Re-opening Supplies Purchasing List (PDF with clickable links)

Taking Care of Yourself and Your Staff as You Re-open the Library Online - Webinar Recording

Funding for Libraries

National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is accepting applications for the NEH CARES: Cultural Organizations program. The purpose of this emergency relief program is to assist institutions and organizations working in the humanities that have been affected by the coronavirus. In keeping with Congress’s intent in enacting the CARES Act, proposals for short-term activities should emphasize retaining or hiring humanities staff. Eligible applicants include U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, public and 501(c)(3) accredited institutions of higher education, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments.

For more information and how to apply, visit The deadline to apply is May 11, 2020, so do not delay!

SBA-Paycheck Protection Program

Current funding has been depleted but with passage of a new bill there will be additional funds available. Watch for updates.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

Financial Guidance - Nonprofit Libraries

Links to the National Council of Nonprofits March 31, 2020 webinar and additional resources. These links will be updated as needed and as regulations and more guidance emerges. This information may be helpful to municipal libraries as well.

Maine Association of Nonprofits Resources and Information on COVID-19 for Maine Nonprofits: Financial Relief for Nonprofit Businesses and Employers

Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) - Protecting your business and ensuring your employees are safe

Summary of Talking Points - April 7, 2020 Statewide Zoom meeting


Open WIFI Initiative

MSL encourages public libraries to open their password protected WIFI, or broadlay share their password and make efforts to make sure your signal works outside your building but on your property (e-rate rules).

Study-From-Car Hotspots -NetworkMaine/MSLN Wireless Initiative for Schools and Libraries to open wireless outside the building

Add your library to the map. Note: You need to know your SSID to complete this form.

WIFI Extender Information (contact Jared Leadbetter for more information)

Handling Mail

Guidance from WHO, CDC and USPS


Working at Home Resources

Task List for Library Staff Working at Home (complied by Lisa Shaw)

Email Janet McKenney with suggestions for additional content