Flu Preparedness

Q. One of our regular library visitors asked what the library's plan for preventing the spread of the flu is.  He has asked whether we wipe down the books daily, or otherwise clean them to prevent transmission.  Does the ALA have information to help libraries on this subject?

CDC.gov Wash your hands

A. The American Library Association has not prepared detailed guidelines for a response to seasonal influenza ("flu"), other than as part of general disaster readiness guidelines. The reasons for this are that most libraries are part of another organization that may have plans to guide the broader community, and that our member groups, who write the guidelines, are focusing on their expertise: protecting the collections. 

That being said, the ALA Library has compiled flu preparedness resources. These include a list of topics to include in an individual library policy, as well as numerous links to governmental resources. According to an official at the Illinois Department of Public Health, ''Books do not need to be wiped down and books will not cause flu.  Almost all flu is passed directly from person to person through droplets, such as when someone sneezes and coughs on you.''  He also provided an easy to remember 3 C's for prevention:


  • Clean - Encourage people to wash their hands frequently, in the bathroom and before eating
  • Cover - Encourage people to cover their coughs and cough into a tissue or into the crook of their elbow.
  • Contain - Don’t go to the library or anywhere else if you are sick

The agency also encourages everyone to get the flu shot each year.  Your library could use the information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help get the word out.




As a hospital librarian I see this as a unique opportunity to refer patrons to a HealthSciences Library, a consumer health library, medical library or a hospital library. We are always happy to work with the community and support our local libraries.