The New York Public Library may have to put books under quarantine as social restrictions begin to ease.
“We may need to quarantine our books for that long to make sure that we’re not passing germs from one person to another,” Tony Marx, the chief executive of the NYPL, told Yahoo Finance.
“That’s something that you know, the experts in the world of libraries and science — they’re going to have to tell us.”
There are no documented cases of the coronavirus spreading from paper, yet a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found the coronavirus can survive up to three days on hard metal surfaces and plastic and up to 24 hours on cardboard.
“How long can the virus live on paper or any other element of a book?” Marx asked, and believes the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, will have to answer the question.
The New York Public library closed its 92 locations on March 31 to minimize the spread of the virus.
“This is a new world,” he continued. “I don’t think we could open all of our facilities, nor do I think we should instantly. Let’s open a few. Let’s learn and see how it goes.”
Marx foresees ”pressure” to open soon since families have been in lockdown and he will work with the city and be “very mindful of public safety” to gradually open NYPL locations.
Marx said he’s “experiencing a greater sense of uncertainty than I think I’ve ever felt in my life on a macro scale.”
“That’s just very hard — my God, New Yorkers, we’re used to being totally in control.”