With more than 500,000 library items out on loan, Brisbane City Council library staff are facing a mammoth task of cleaning every single returned item to ensure they are safe and clean for residents when libraries reopen.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said nearly 370 library staff across Brisbane are stringently sanitising all returned library books and have so far cleaned an astonishing 70,000 items to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

“There are more than 500,000 items out on loan, which is more than half of the entire collection, and every single one needs to be thoroughly cleaned in a process that takes three days” Cr Schrinner said.

“Thousands of items are being returned daily after being in residents’ hands and homes and cleaning is a crucial way to reduce the spread of the virus and ensure that when libraries re-open, residents can confidently borrow sanitised items.

“We know coronavirus can survive for some time on surfaces, so all returned items are set aside for three days and are handled by library staff who wear gloves. Following the three days, each item is wiped down with anti-bacterial spray before it’s returned to shelves.”

Cr Schrinner said alongside daily cleaning, library staff were busy innovating Council’s vast elibrary service and creating virtual story time videos to ensure Brisbane bookworms don’t miss out of getting their knowledge fix.

“Since the closures, we’ve had more than 2800 new members log onto Council’s library service to take advantage of more than 150,000 online resources including ebooks, audiobooks, music and movies,” he said.

“Our library staff are growing the online library experience to ensure people don’t miss out on their favourite library events, with popular events now streaming online.

“We’ve transformed the service to ensure popular library events including babies, books and rhymes sessions, as well as virtual story time and toddler time are available online and on Facebook.

“We’ve had a great response so far, with more than 41,000 views of the virtual story time videos.”

Cr Schrinner said Council also has expanded the At-Home Library services, making the cleaning of physical library even more crucial than ever, with the service delivering library items to the homes of Brisbane’s most vulnerable residents.

“It’s not easy for everyone to access online services, especially for our most vulnerable community members, elderly residents, people with a disability and people who are severely ill,” he said.

“We’ve made changes to eligibility so it’s easier for people to sign to the free At-Home Library service, and we’ve seen more than 150 new customers take up the chance to get library items delivered to their homes.”

Council libraries will be re-opened dependent on advice from Queensland Health and the Federal Government.

For more information about library services, visit www.brisbane.qld.gov.au or call 3403 8888.