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Bellaire library using ultraviolet light machine to sanitize books

Bellaire Public Library Director Mary Roberts, left, and Assistant Director Mary DeGenova remove their masks momentarily while posing with the library’s new book sanitizer.

BELLAIRE — At first glance the contraption looks like a large microwave, one big enough to cook a very large turkey.

But it’s not that at all.

It is actually a device to kill germs — including the virus that causes COVID-19 — on books, DVDS, CDs and more, and it is being used at the Bellaire Public Library.

Library Director Mary Roberts said the library purchased the device for $4,575 from International Library Service Inc. of Potomac, Md. Several items can be placed into the device, called the Ultraviolet Ray Book Sterilizer, at one time.

The library uses the device on all its books and other materials that fit before putting them back onto the shelves for other patrons to use again. Prior to getting the machine, the library would quarantine the books for four days before wiping them clean. Patrons, however, did not like the wait time and the library did not want to use liquids on the books.

Roberts said the machine is a good investment as it is keeping patrons and workers safe. She believes long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended the library will continue to use it, as library books can get pretty dirty, she said.

While the machine has a timer for various “cooking” times, the directions say 30 seconds is enough. Most of the books are hung on wire racks inside and some can be placed on the bottom as well. An air blower inside helps clean them, too. During the process, one person is designated the loader, while a second person handles only the clean books. Gloves are worn by each worker during the process.

“For the safety of the people who work here and the community, this is a good investment,” Roberts said.

During the statewide shutdown of businesses declared non-essential by the state, library workers did deep cleaning of the facility and some much-needed reorganizing and inventory.

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