June 25, 2020

Mellon Foundation Invests $1.5 Million in Federal COVID-19 Research Project to Support Libraries, Museums Reopening
Public-Private Partnership Generates Significant Support for IMLS Materials Study with OCLC, Battelle

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced the receipt of a $1,500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support materials research for collections care and the reopening of libraries and museums during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As libraries and museums around the country begin to resume operations and reopen to the public, the need for clear information to support the handling of core museum, library, and archival materials has become increasingly urgent.

IMLS, the primary source of federal funding for museums and libraries; OCLC, a global library technology and research organization; and Battelle, a not-for-profit global research and development organization, are collaborating to study and share information about how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums.

The project, REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM), will draw upon the study’s results and other scientific literature to make information available on how materials can be handled to mitigate exposure to staff and visitors. The results from the first round of testing were announced on June 22, 2020.

“Scientific research is essential to answer questions about the spread of COVID-19 on materials that are ubiquitous throughout the nation’s libraries and museums,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “We are thrilled for the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in accomplishing this critical research that will facilitate and inform reopening plans for libraries and museums across the country, and possibly the world.”

IMLS, OCLC, and Battelle, along with federal agencies such as the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives and Records Administration, have also engaged a steering committee drawn from the museum and library fields with the goal of understanding and mitigating the impact of the virus. Together, they are supporting the curation and development of information on how to handle materials, training, and cleaning in support of safely reopening and sustaining operations under a COVID-19 reality.

For more information or to sign up for REALM Project updates, visit oc.lc/realm-project.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.