LONGVIEW, Texas — A new device is helping the Longview Public Library ensure books are clear from COVID-19 as well as getting them back on shelves more quickly.
Jennifer Eldridge, the library's director, says each month, about 13,000 items are checked out, but when the pandemic hit they began to experience an issue.
"When we started receiving materials back, of course, we were concerned about items being covered in germs or potentially the COVID virus," she explained. "There became longer wait times for materials, especially items that are new and that have hold lists."
After a book was returned, it was quarantined for up to eight days before being put back into circulation. Now, the wait time has been cut down thanks to a grant with CARES Act funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
"We were able to apply and receive a grant for $20,000 to purchase a super book sanitizer, a smaller book sanitizer which will actually go to our branch library over at Broughton Recreation Center, and also a subscription to Brainfuse Help Now tutoring services which is free unlimited tutoring services for children," Eldridge said.
The book sanitizer arrived at the library in December. Eldridge says they were the first in the state to receive the device.
"I think the biggest difference that we have seen as a result of this, is peace of mind and I think that's what everyone is craving during this hectic time," she said.
The book sanitizer can clean up to 20 books in five minutes, as well as DVDs and some computer equipment.
"UVC highlight goes through the books and it's actually a germicide light bulb that is used in the medical profession," Eldridge explained. "And then high pressure from the back flows, so that those book pages can move and the light can reach as much of the book as possible. It is 100% proven to kill COVID-19."
Over the last month, Eldridge says the library has been able to catch up on sanitizing all the books.