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Updates to Library and Archives Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last Updated: 11/23/2020

The Museum has temporarily closed for the rest of 2020. Library and Archives staff are working remotely during this time and will not have access to our onsite collections. Below is information about the services we can offer in the meantime. Reach out to us with any questions and comments at library@philamuseum.org.Thank you for your patience and flexibility.

See below for:

What’s changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • No building access for public researchers: the Perelman Building remains closed to non-essential staff and visitors until further notice. But we continue to provide resources, services, and consulting online.
  • Library circulation policy (TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE): Staff may now take most books home with them. Here’s what you need to know.  
  • Contactless Pick Up and Return (TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE): Pick up and return books with minimal contact. We’ve set up book carts in the lower level of the Perelman Building (near the Media room) for pickup and return; or request to have books interoffice mailed to you. See our FAQs for more detailed information.
  • No reading room research: The Library’s reading rooms and study carrels are closed for research until further notice. You can use the Bookeye scanner, and we continue to provide resources online. The reference desk will not be staffed. Questions? Contact library@philamuseum.org
  • Bookeye scanner (TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE): Please do your part to keep the Bookeye scanner clean. Wear gloves when using it, or, sanitize your hands and let them dry before use. Clean your hands after using the machine. Do Not use wipes on the touch screens as they can damage the equipment.
  • Archives and Special Collections: The Arcadia Special Collections Reading Room will be closed to all researchers until further notice. We will continue to provide remote reference services as best we can. Questions? Contact archives@philamuseum.org.
  • The Martha and I. Wistar Morris Scholars Study: Carrels in this shared space remain closed until further notice. Staff can retrieve and return materials that are currently kept in the Scholars Study. Questions? Contact library@philamuseum.org
  • Interlibrary requests: You may place requests for electronic delivery of articles and book chapters through our WorldShare service. We cannot fill requests for print materials at this time. Once borrowing and lending resume, you’ll be free to take home ILL books along with your PMA items. However, please note that requests may be delayed or unfilled because of COVID-related service disruptions. Need more information? Check out our ILL page or contact ill@philamuseum.org.
  • Reference Materials and Periodicals (TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE): Our Reference and Periodicals sections are not open for browsing, but these materials are findable in our online catalog. Please feel free to request reference materials as you would circulating books—they will be available for pick up in the lower level of Perelman along with other requested books. Please email library@philamuseum.org if you wish to see a current periodical.
  • New acquisitions and purchase requests: You can request the purchase of electronic materials to support research; however, we have temporarily stopped donations of unsolicited materials and will rarely make new print acquisitions. We realize that this is a major disruption in library services, but please continue to send suggestions to library@philamuseum.org and we will do our best to fulfill your requests.

What hasn’t changed?

Updated Circulation Policies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last Updated: 11/23/2020

New Library Circulation Policy

  • We won't have access to our onsite collections until the new year. When we can safely return to the Perelman Building, the following policies will go back into effect.
  • During the pandemic, staff can now take home most library books. Some items may not be available due to their size, condition, and/or uniqueness. We are still figuring out how to serve these materials and will let you know if your request falls into such a category. Questions? Email library@philamuseum.org
  • Moving forward, all Interlibrary Loan books may leave the building. We will no longer accept in-library use only materials from peer institutions. Please note that ILL items have shorter loan periods than PMA materials.

Guidelines

  • Transport all books with care. Art books are heavy, fragile, and the coated paper is very sensitive to moisture.
  • Please do not use disinfectant sprays, wipes, or UV light on library books, as these can easily damage print materials.
  • Many of us are working on kitchen and dining room tables. Please keep library books away from food, drink, pets, and other hazards.
  • We have never had cleaner hands. Please keep them clean when using library books. Hand washing is recommended over sanitizing, because the former removes dirt and oils where the latter does not. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers accelerate the rate of paper degradation.
  • Take a reasonable number of books home with you. Better to be pragmatic rather than aspirational.
  • All of us discover books in our home libraries that we have not seen in years. When that moment arrives, please don’t let it be a library book.
  • Please do not pass along books that are checked out to you to your family, friends, or colleagues. Once the book changes hands the likelihood of retrieval and return diminishes.
  • If you find yourself in need of a book that is checked out to another colleague, please let us know and we will facilitate a recall or acquire an interlibrary loan copy on your behalf.

If you have any questions please send them to library@philamuseum.org 

Access to Non-Circulating Book Policies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last Updated: 11/23/2020

Our new take-home circulation policies do not apply to our non-circulating collections. These include but are not limited to items from our Rare stacks, damaged or fragile books, kits, or mixed media materials.

With our Reading Room closed, you may now review non-circulating materials in your personal workspace in Perelman or Main. Request what you need online, and we’ll contact you to schedule an in-person, socially-distanced hand-off. Returns must be made the same day, while the Library is still staffed. Just let us know when you’re dropping off your book. If you need more time, we’ll make arrangements with you for a future date.

Questions? Contact alex.vallejo@philamuseum.org.

FAQs on Resuming Library Services

Last Updated: 11/23/2020

These FAQs will be updated as plans are developed and implemented. Responses are based on current information and can change.

1. When and how will onsite library services be restarted?

The Museum is scheduled to remain closed through the rest of 2020. We anticipate resuming onsite services in January 2021. At that time, the below policies will go back in effect:

You can drop off all returns on the return cart near the Media Room in the Lower Level of the Perelman building, or send them back via interoffice mail in a sealed, clearly marked box, mailer, or envelope. 

Paging will be completed once per day before 11 A.M. Books will be available on pickup carts near the Media Room on the Lower Level of the Perelman Building. You can also request that your books or other materials be sent to you via interoffice mail. Please request “interoffice mail” and note the department to where we should send the materials when you make your request in the online catalog. 

Interlibrary loan services are only available for electronic copies of articles and book chapters. For more information, please see Question 7. 

2. What precautions are you taking to protect library users and staff and minimize risk of infection?

The safety of library staff and patrons is our highest priority. Library and Archives staff will follow all state and museum public health guidelines, including maintaining social distance, wearing masks, frequent hand washing, sanitizing and disinfecting workspaces and equipment, and self-monitoring for symptoms. Additionally, we will be quarantining returned library collection materials for 96 hours between hand-offs to minimize the risk of viral spread through contact with book and other collection surfaces.

3. When I pick up my book, should I clean or disinfect it?

No! Please don’t clean or disinfect library materials. Per recommendations from the IMLS/OCLC/Battelle report, quarantining a book for 48–96 hours (depending on the type of paper) will naturally disinfect the book. 

4. What will be the average wait times between requesting a book and receiving it?

It is likely that the turnaround will be longer than usual. To protect the safety of staff and patrons, we will be operating at minimum staffing levels with workflows modified to allow for social distancing and the required 48-96 hour quarantine of library materials. 

For scans, we anticipate it will typically take 2–3 days to process most requests. For books, the wait time will typically be 5-7 days . Quarantine protocols for handling physical materials make requests for “rush” or expedited delivery less feasible for the time being. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience with any delays or inconvenience. 

5. When will I be able to use the reading room again?

Our reading rooms are closed until further notice. Once we resume work in the Perelman Building, you may use the Bookeye scanner in the main reading room. Please do not use wipes or clean the equipment. Be sure to wash your hands or make sure your hands are dry after sanitizing them to keep the equipment clean and not damage the displays.

Do not browse or pull items from the Reference stacks. These materials are findable in our online catalog so please request reference materials as you would circulating books—they will be available for pick up in the lower level of Perelman along with other requested materials. Please reach out to library@philamuseum.org if you have another use case for any reference books or want to see a current issue of a journal so we can make sure materials are properly quarantined between uses. Serials are no longer on display in the reading room.

6. I’m interested in using rare books or archival materials. When can I set up a research appointment with the Archives?

We will make special arrangements with PMA staff to access rare Library books. More information can be found here

Please request archival materials via archives@philamuseum.org and we will do our best to help you. In-person research with this material is unavailable for the foreseeable future.

7. When will I be able to request books from Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

For the duration of the closure, we have suspended E-ZBorrow and WorldShare services for print materials. Once service is restored, please note that fulfillment may be delayed because of reduced on-site staffing, COVID-related service disruptions at other ILL libraries, and the need to quarantine incoming books before circulating to patrons. 

You'll be permitted to take home most of your ILL books along with PMA items. If any have been marked for in-library use only, we will make special arrangements with you according to our new non-circulating item policies.

8. I requested a book and it’s not on the request cart (Perelman Media Room level)?

The item you requested may not be available due to its size, condition, and/or uniqueness. We are still figuring out the process for how to handle such material, but we hope to make these items available for Bookeye scanning in the main Reading Room in the near future (2nd floor). Please bear with us as we work through this process. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at library@philamuseum.org.

9. Can you buy a book at my request?

Please send any purchase requests to library@philamuseum.org. However, due to budgetary constraints we have temporarily stopped new acquisitions of most materials, including print books.

10. I work in the Main Building, do I need to go into Perelman to retrieve books?

When you request a book in the online catalog, please also note in any blank field “interoffice mail” and the department where we should send the book(s). If there is any issue with this, we will make alternative arrangements with you. 

11. I returned a book, but it does not appear as returned in the online catalog. What happened?

As you know, we now ask you to drop off all returns on the return cart near the Media Room in the Lower Level of the Perelman building, or send them back via interoffice mail in a sealed, clearly marked box, mailer, or envelope. All returns must be quarantined for at least 4 days, and given our process for handling such material it may take up to two weeks, so please know that these books will not be checked in until that time has ended.