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REALM Project

Many AIC members have expressed health and safety concerns for both staff and visitors when museums, libraries, and archives gradually resume operations. Questions remain about the viability of the COVID-19 virus on paper and plastics in circulating collections, as well as on surfaces that are repeatedly touched, such as interactive screens and headphones. 

I am delighted, therefore, that AIC has been invited to serve on the Steering Committee of the recently announced IMLS initiative, COVID-19 Research Partnership to Inform Safe Handling of Collections, Reopening Practices for Libraries, Museums

In this capacity, AIC, represented by Executive Director Eryl Wentworth, will assist the IMLS, OCLC (a non-profit global library cooperative), and Battelle (a non-profit scientific research organization) as they evaluate and develop guidelines on how to handle materials, training, and cleaning in a lessened, but still persistent, COVID-19 presence. Other associations and collecting institutions on the Steering Committee include the American Alliance for Museums, the Association of Science and Technology Centers, National Archives and Records Administration, the Children’s Museums Association, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Library Association, among others.

AIC will continue to update this page and keep it linked from our homepage. The IMLS Research Partnership is working for the rapid release of information in the coming weeks.  We are united in our desire to provide access to collections, while insuring everyone’s wellbeing. 

Margaret Holben Ellis

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Sign up to receive project updates via email or see the latest project news on the REALM Project website.


  • Test 4 Results Announced (3 September 2020)

  • Test 3 Results Announced (18 August 2020)

  • Test 4 Underway (4 August 2020)

  • August 4 webinar open for registration (23 July 2020)

  • New test results announced (20 July 2020)

  • Third round of testing begins July 10 (9 July 2020)

  • Second round of testing begins (25 June 2020)

  • Round 1 test results now available (22 June 2020)

  • Systematic literature review released (17 June 2020)

  • REALM Project roles available (10 June 2020)

  • Project test plan and preliminary literature review released (3 June 2020)

  • Round 1 material testing underway (20 May 2020)

  • REALM Project site launches (12 May 2020)