REALM Project

Archives, Libraries,
and Museums


Resources > Museums

Toolkit resources to support reopening practices for museum staff are available to download at the links below.

Bookmark this page and check back often as additional resources will be available soon.


One year later: Perspectives from the field

Updated: 21 July 2021

Leaders in the library, archives and museum community share the experience of their organizations navigating through the pandemic, the evolution of policies and what's on the horizon.


The impact of COVID on libraries, archives and museums: Resource roundup

Updated: 15 July 2021

Museums and libraries were among the first organizations to provide their audiences with access to content, services, and support in the face of a global pandemic. These resources attempt to document the pandemic’s impact on the library, archive, and museum field.


Documenting the pandemic: Resource roundup

Updated: 15 July 2021

As collecting institutions, libraries, archives and museums have the distinct challenge of trying to preserve and share history while it is happening. From audio stories to physical objects, these examples illustrate the many ways that artifacts from the pandemic are being collected and will be remembered.


Vaccines: Resource roundup

Updated: 15 July 2021

This collection of curated information and resources about vaccines can help to answer common COVID-19-related questions, such as, “How can I change my behavior after being vaccinated and what precautions should I continue to take?” “What’s the context for and basis of COVID-19 vaccine reluctance?” and “Can LAMs require guests to be vaccinated?”.


Health equity: Resource roundup

Updated: 3 June 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health disparities in US communities—from receiving treatment while sick, to vaccine access and trustworthy information. As part of their core functions as local community information hubs, libraries, archives, and museums can play a key role in addressing these critical inequities.


Risk assessment: Resource roundup

Updated: 20 May 2021

As LAMs continue to respond to the pandemic and adjust their reopening plans, risk assessment and scenario-based planning skills will remain important organizational assets. These resources focus on how to prepare for future disasters through crisis management.


Trauma management: Resource roundup

Updated: 20 May 2021

Empathetic service, positive visitor encounters, and a more trusting and equitable workplace for employees are only a few benefits that a trauma-informed approach can offer. This roundup features examples of applying trauma-informed concepts to public service, as well as articles that focus on the impact of trauma on staff.


Virtual programming: Resource roundup

Updated: 4 May 2021

While social distancing guidelines are in place, archives, libraries, and museums have the opportunity to meet people where they are: online. This roundup includes examples and resources for conducting successful virtual programs.


Social distancing: Resource roundup

Updated: 4 May 2021

Implementing and adhering to social distancing measures can be a challenge for archives, libraries, and museums (LAMs) when reopening their facilities. To create enough distance for visitors and staff, LAMs may have to modify or reimagine their spaces and the experiences offered within them. These resources can help to provide guidance on social distancing measures while serving the public and keeping staff safe.


Volunteer and docent management: Resource roundup

Updated: 20 April 2021

Challenging in the best of times, volunteer management has become even more complex during the pandemic. These resources explore strategies for keeping volunteers engaged and maintaining authentic and meaningful relationships while keeping everyone safe. As populations become more vaccinated, these examples may provide inspiration for continuing volunteer activities and relationships that are not reliant on physical space.


Masks: Resource roundup

Updated: 20 April 2021

While mask-wearing policies continue to vary regionally in the United States, libraries, archives, and museums are navigating how to message, enact, and enforce them. This roundup features articles on topics ranging from legal implications to staff training to disability considerations and includes examples of current (and general customer service-oriented) mask policies. 


Communication and signage: Resource roundup

Updated: 20 April 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed day-to-day life in unprecedented ways for many people. Employers and employees have played a critical role in helping to prevent further spread of the disease. A crucial aspect of this work lies in how we communicate to our staff and the public. These resources provide examples of relevant communication tools, including signage templates and COVID-19 communication guides.


Managing uncertainty during COVID-19

Updated: 18 March 2021

A year after COVID-19 upended our lives, we are still contending with many uncertainties. Pandemics make for a complex problem in a complex system. Organizations have had to make decisions quickly based on information that is patchy, flawed, or indirect. Undisputed conclusions are hard to settle on, and there is no one decision to rule them all. Turns out, this uncertainty is the nature of decision-making during a global public health crisis. 


Reopening considerations

Updated: 5 March 2021

When creating reopening plans or revising protocols to meet current conditions, reviewing what other institutions are doing can be helpful. This document synthesizes reopening plans that have been generously shared by libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs).


Cleaning and disinfecting considerations

Updated: 5 February 2021

This guide synthesizes resources from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to clean and disinfect public spaces. In addition to social distancing, practicing prevention hygiene, and following public health guidelines, reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfecting can be an important part of reopening your facility.


REALM for Museums

Updated: 19 December 2020

Review the scope of the REALM project, the "known and unknowns" about COVID-19, and materials which have been tested by the project and are relevant to museums.


Introduction to the REALM project (video)

Updated: 17 December 2020

Get an inside look at REALM goals, roles, and activities as told by project team members from IMLS, OCLC, and Battelle.


REALM visual aids

Updated: 17 December 2020

New REALM toolkit resources are available to help support the interpretation and use of REALM laboratory research. These downloadable visual aids show test results by material type and usage, including: surfaces, books and paper, media and plastics.


Literature review: Key takeaways

Updated: 19 November 2020

The Phase 2 literature review analyzed and summarized findings from available scientific literature on SARS-CoV-2 from mid-May through mid-August 2020. This review focused on studies of how the virus is spread, virus attenuation on commonly found materials, and effectiveness of prevention and decontamination measures.


Quarantine, disinfection and cleaning of museum collections and exhibits

Updated: 19 November 2020

Links to information about disinfection and cleaning of materials, as well as illustrative examples of documented protocols and procedures. Also included is a recorded presentation from the Northeast Document Conservation Center on how they are approaching disinfection of paper-based collections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


REALM test results in visual format

Updated: 19 November 2020

A visual aid that compiles the test results published by the REALM project. The data currently includes the results of Tests 1-6 and will be updated as new results are available.


Decision-making checklist

Updated: 19 November 2020

While working toward resuming operations and services to the public, many factors and resources (national, state, local) can inform local decision-making. This list of considerations offers a starting point and includes links to guides and additional information.


REALM 101: An introduction to COVID-19 and the project

Updated: 19 November 2020

An overview of the project purpose, what we know about COVID-19, as well as the "known unknowns," and the testing process being used for REALM.


Collections and facilities: Caring for your resources during COVID-19 (video)

Updated: 22 October 2020

Chris Carron, Director of Collections at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and a member of the REALM Operations Working Group, participated in a project webinar on October 8, 2020. In this video, Chris shares how the museum's policies and procedures have evolved in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.