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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.


  • New REALM Research on Ventilation in Buildings (07 July 2022)

  • Read REALM Project Insights on Preparing for, Navigating Through, and Recovering from Public Health Crises (16 June 2022)

  • New Insights from Library, Archive, and Museum Experiences as Community Hubs and in Crisis Management During COVID-19 (21 April 2022)

  • REALM Project COVID-19 Research Published in Peer-reviewed Scientific Journal (14 March 2022)

  • How San José State University Library Adapted During the Pandemic and Register for a Free Webinar (27 January 2022)

  • Perspectives from the Field and Webinar Opportunities (13 January 2022)

  • Find the Latest COVID-19 Research and Stories from Leaders in the Field (16 December 2021)

  • New REALM Research, Stories, and Resources for Young People (18 November 2021)

  • REALM Project Updates (14 October 2021)

  • New from REALM: Museum Perspectives and Webinar Recording (7 October 2021)

  • REALM Project Research and Webinar Updates (2 September 2021)

  • More “Perspectives from the Field”: Public Library Leaders Share Pandemic Learnings  (26 August 2021) 

  • August REALM Project Updates (12 August 2021)

  • Updated REALM Research and Toolkit Materials (22 July 2021)

  • REALM Research Updates, Perspectives from the Field, and New REALM Committee Members Added (1 July 2021)

  • New REALM Resources on Pandemic Impacts and Libraries and Museums as Vaccination Sites (3 June 2021)

  • What’s New and Next for the REALM Project (20 May 2021)

  • Register for the April 15 REALM project webinar, “Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines” (1 April 2021)

  • Managing Uncertainty During COVID-19: Five Tips for Making Decisions During a Crisis (18 March 2021)

  • REALM literature review and new toolkit resources available (5 March 2021)

  • REALM Project Test 7 and 8 Results Available (11 February 2021)

  • REALM Tests 7 & 8 Underway & Webinar Scheduled (14 January 2021)

  • New REALM Toolkit Materials and Videos (17 December 2020)

  • Test 6 Results and New Resources Available (19 November 2020)

  • Test 6 Underway and Toolkit Materials Available (22 October 2020)

  • Test 5 and Phase 2 Literature Review (14 October 2020)

  • Second REALM webinar scheduled (24 September 2020)

  • Test 5 Underway (10 September 2020)

  • 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)