I returned my books, why am I still getting overdue notices?

Books waiting to be checked in and shelved at ELPL
That's a lot of books!

You returned a stack of book through our drive-up book drop several days ago. This morning, you got an email saying that your items were overdue. What’s going on?

Like almost everything going wrong in 2020, it’s because of the pandemic. We’re following the current guidelines and quarantining all returned items for one week. So, if you return any items within one week of our due date, they won’t get checked in until they’re technically overdue. But don’t worry, we won’t charge you any overdue fines (as of July 1st, ELPL no longer charges daily overdue fines on most items anyway).

Many of you have asked why we can’t check in your items and then put them in quarantine. The problem is that once we check an item in, it becomes available in our catalog. Anyone who searches for that item or puts a request on it would think it’s available, which would lead to even more confusion. Unfortunately, our systems don’t have a “pandemic quarantine mode.” As we did with our curbside pickup scheduling software, we’re doing our best to modify existing systems and programs to serve our patrons as best we can during this difficult time.

Some of you may be wondering why we need to quarantine at all – can’t we just wipe them down & return them to circulation? In some cases, yes. However, that won’t work to kill the coronavirus on most materials. We’re following the guidelines of Project REALM (REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums), opens a new window, which is based in the Battelle Institute in Columbus, Ohio. Battelle is an internationally recognized research institution that has been a part of many well-known inventions such as the Xerox machine, compact discs, jet engines, and even no-melt chocolate. Project REALM has been running tests on a variety of materials over the last several months and has determined that the coronavirus can remain viable for up to a week on many surfaces. For example, we can wipe down the outside of a book, but the virus can still be active on the pages inside.

We will continue to monitor the best research and health guidelines in order to help keep our community safe. Thanks for being patient with us!