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Keeping Your Library Clean and Germ Free

  • Tips for Librarians
  • Elementary
  • Middle School
  • Pre-K

It seems like there really is no such thing as “flu season” in schools...unless we’re talking about the entire school year. What I mean is, students are sick. A lot. There can be nasty coughs, stomach bugs, actual bugs (lice and scabies), common colds, fevers, and the list continues.

As a first time school librarian, I was pretty naive about germs. I had worked in schools for years, and built up a pretty solid immunity-or so I thought. As soon as I started, I became acutely aware of just how much contact I had with materials touched by each and every student in the school. The reason? I was sick about every 3 weeks. Around October I had enough: it was time to get the library clean and keep it that way.

Here are some tips to keeping your library clean and germ free:

1. Always keep Clorox wipes on hand.

My school provided a different brand but I found Clorox was the only one that actually killed the germs lurking on the tables, chairs, shelves and book bins.

2. Wipe down your scanner and keyboard after every check in and class checkout.

This might seem a little over the top but after you grab a book, scan it, and put it on your cart to be shelved you may have already contaminated your computer and the scanner you touch, oh, I don’t know? 100 times a day?

3. Keep a separate hand sanitizer for you and one for your students.

I shudder at the thought of a kindergartener blowing his nose for 10 minutes, wipe his nose with his hand, then pump the hand sanitizer. Better yet, Clorox-wipe that thing, too.

4. Place dust jackets and plastic covers on books when ordering or when processing books, if possible. 

Paperbacks are sometimes a lost cause (who has the time to use contact paper on every Magic Fairy book you have?) But ordering books and supplies from companies like Follett or Brodart usually gives you the option to have them come to you with plastic covers and dust jackets. If not, get to YouTubin’ and learn to cover them yourself. Actually, wait. I’ll make a tip video on that. The point is, you can sanitize these plastic book covers after every circulation.

5. DO not forget to sanitize your shelves.

Ever watched students mosey around the library to find a book? They touch everything...twice. This might be a fun activity for your student volunteers at the end of the day.

6. If a book comes back to the library sticky or wet, give it time to dry, clean it as best you can, and then decide if you want it to circulate again.

If you have any tips you'd like to share on keeping your library clean, let me know!