New technology that eliminates COVID-19 on book surfaces is being used now at the Longview Public Library to help protect patrons and ensure that books re-circulate quicker through the library.

Longview Public Library received $20,000 in CARES Act funds from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to be used for COVID-related expenses, Longview Public Library Director Jennifer Eldridge said. The Longview library chose to use its funds to contract with an online tutoring program that library patrons can use and to purchase a book sanitizer that can kill germs, including the novel coronavirus, on book surfaces. After success from the book sanitizer, the library is now planning to purchase another, smaller sanitizer for its Broughton branch.

“The COVID-19 pandemic really rocked everybody’s worlds and came with a whole set of problems. For us, even before COVID, we always had a concern about passing germs from household to household, and we always made sure to wipe things down. The book sanitizer has really solved a huge problem for us, even beyond COVID,” Eldridge said. “This really helps put our minds at ease in an otherwise very stressful and challenging time.”

When the pandemic began, the Longview Public Library quarantined books when they were returned by patrons. Initially, the books were quarantined for a couple of days but after research suggested COVID-19 could live on surfaces for up to eight days, the library began quarantining its books for eight days, Eldridge said.

That meant patrons had to wait longer to check out the books. Newer books, which sometimes have a waitlist, especially took longer to circulate, she said.

With the Super Book Sanitizer purchased from PIKinc., an international library services company, the library is able to sanitize 20 books at a time in five minutes, Eldridge said. The machine uses ultraviolet light technology and high-pressure air circulation to kill germs, according to information from PIKinc. The company also says the book sanitizer, which cost $8,400, has been tested and proven to kill COVID-19.

Longview Public Library patrons return about 13,000 books each month, she said, and the machine has helped those books recirculate much more quickly than the eight-day quarantine.

“It’s been a huge blessing,” Eldridge said of the Super Book Sanitizer. “We’ve all been excited to use it. It’s very user friendly. We’ve been able to get rid of the eight-day quarantine and have peace of mind knowing that we aren’t transmitting the virus through our materials.”

Because of the success with the Super Book Sanitizer, the library is in the process of purchasing a smaller sanitizer for its Broughton branch, Eldridge said. The smaller machine, which costs $4,300, can sanitize six books at a time, according to PIKinc. It uses the same technology and is simply smaller in size.

In addition to the book sanitizers, the library also used about $8,000 of the funding to purchase a subscription to Brainfuse Help Now, an online-based tutoring program.

Prior to the pandemic, the library had a Tutoring Tuesdays program in which Longview Police Department officers would come to the library to tutor students. Since the pandemic began, the library suspended that program for social distancing reasons, Eldridge said.

“However, due to the pandemic, the need for tutoring is higher than ever as many children are having to do online classes and aren’t able to perform as effectively,” she said. “There was a huge need in our community.”

The Brainfuse program offers tutoring in all subjects to students in most grade levels. The live, online tutoring is available 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., when students are out of school, she said.

The library will have the program available until Aug. 31. Patrons need only have a library card to use the service.

To access the Brainfuse tutoring program, visit tinyurl.com/brainfusetutoring .

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