REALM Project

REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums

REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) is a research project conducted by OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle to produce science-based information about how materials can be handled to mitigate COVID-19 exposure to staff and visitors of archives, libraries, and museums.

View the research

Happening Now

See all project updates

Research timeline

This project is designed to be flexible and evolve as more becomes known about the virus and practices to reduce risk of transmission. The partnership will address known and emergent research questions in three phases.

Current Planned Activities

October 2020

  • Release Phase 2 systematic literature review
  • Release Test 5 findings
  • Initiate Test 6
  • Host WebJunction webinar (October 8)
  • Publish toolkit resources

November 2020

  • Release Test 6 findings
  • Publish additional toolkit resources
  • Evaluation of Phases 1 and 2
  • Plan Phase 3 research
  • Working group discussions

Phase 1

Preparing for Reopened Libraries: Research on High-priority Materials and Workflows

May 2020 – August 2020

This phase will collect, curate, and disseminate information and recommended practices for handling physical collections and facilities in anticipation of a phased-in or full reopening of public library buildings and services starting as early as May 2020. This phase will produce an initial set of research findings and related resources.

Phase 2

Additional Research to Support Operations of Libraries, Archives, and Museums

June 2020 – October 2020

This phase will study a second set of materials and workflows across libraries, archives/special collections, and museums. The research activities will produce results of laboratory testing, a scientific literature review, toolkit resources, and related resources that provide updated or new information that may have emerged since Phase 1. A more fully designed website will be launched during this phase.

Phase 3

Monitor, Update, Communicate

October 2020 – September 2021

In Phase 3, the project will continue to monitor and review emerging research that may require updates and additions to what has been created during the first two phases.  In addition, as the rate of transmission for the virus changes over time and communities continue to adjust to those changes, the policies and practices of libraries and museums may also warrant a change. A third literature review and additional laboratory testing is planned for this phase.