REALM Project

REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) is a research project conducted by OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle to produce and distribute science-based COVID-19 information that can aid local decision making regarding operations of archives, libraries, and museums.

View the research


Public Health Crisis Management Playbook
for Archives, Libraries, and Museums

A set of guiding processes, resources, and tools to aid cultural heritage institutions when planning for, navigating through, and recovering from a significant public health emergency.


Project timeline

This project was designed to be flexible and evolve as more becomes known about COVID-19 and the impact of a public health crisis on archives, libraries, and museums. The partnership has addressed research questions and information needs in three phases.

Current Planned Activities

  • Develop on-demand training content
  • Complete project evaluation activities
  • Document recommendations for future projects and initiatives

Phase 1

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

May 2020 – August 2020

Collect, curate, and disseminate information and illustrative practices for mitigating transmission of the COVID-19 virus while handling circulating library collection items. 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

Conduct laboratory tests on the lifespan of the COVID-19 virus on a range of materials handled frequently in archives/special collections, libraries and museums. Produce  scientific literature reviews, toolkit resources, and share illustrative examples from the field. Distribute information through project website, mailing list, webinars, and speaking engagements. 

Phase 3

Monitor, Update, Communicate

October 2020 – present

Continue to monitor and review new COVID-19 research and community response, and update project resources and information as needed. Host and summarize discussions among archives, libraries, and museum practitioners about lessons learned during the pandemic that can help prepare institutions for future public health crises. Design and develop on-demand course content to help with future crises and support staff training needs.