COVID-19 Courtesy of

To our staff, student community and global researchers and patrons.

In line with our University of Newcastle’s COVID019 safety advice as of Monday 23rd March 2020 we are placing the following measures in place with our service delivery:

  • Our staff who wish to do so for either personal health reasons or as a safety precaution for their families will be working from home.
  • All volunteers will be sent home until further notice.
  • There will be a skeleton staff in Cultural Collections and GLAMx Lab to deal with work integrated learning student placements and in generating fresh digital content from our physical archival and rare book collections where feasible.
  • We have access to Aarnet’s Cloudstor services and so can deliver digital content in any size should it be required.
  • Where the level of physical content not feasible to digitise, physical access can be provided by appointment only by emailing
  • While campuses remain open they are only for staff, students and those with library memberships (Community Borrowers). If you do not fall into any of these categories we will need to ask for approval first.


To search our digital and online listings of content:


Our procedures for physical visitors:

  1. Client contacts the library for access to required items. If possible a digital version of the requested item should be generated and sent to the client in reasonable time.
  2. Where digitisation is not feasible, physical access can be provided by appointment only by emailing Before an appointment is made, the client is asked to confirm by email/verbally that they have not recently tested positive for COVID-19 and are not displaying symptoms. The client also is asked if they have been in contact with person having the symptoms or travelling from overseas. If confirmation is provided, the appointment can be made.
  3. Details of the client and the appointment are entered into an electronic calendar.
  4. Only 2 clients at one time are allowed into the Reading Room, the doors are to remain closed throughout their session.
  5. At the beginning of the session clients must sanitise and dry their hands.
  6. They are issued with disposable gloves and masks which must be worn for the entire session.
  7. Staff wear disposable gloves and mask to deliver boxes/plans to the research table.
  8. Staff disinfect the reading tables before the client arrival.
  9. We issue boxes and/or a locker key and we record the attendance for the purposes of contact tracing, should it be required.
  10. The staff member/invigilator maintains a 1.5 metre distance from clients and ensures researchers maintain a 1.5 metre distance from each other (No more than two researchers are allowed at any one time.)
  11. At the end of the research session the Client’s gloves and mask are disposed of in the plastic-bag-lined box near the exit door.
  12. Staff are to wear disposable gloves while removing the used collections to the quarantine table in the processing room where the material is placed (separated from other material in quarantine) and labelled with the date. The paper collections are quarantined for at least 3 days (72 hours), other material including negatives, and any other collection that is made of mixture of material need to be quarantined for 9 days inclusive.
  13. Wiping and disinfection only used for special circumstances when the quarantine is not feasible.
  14. All used Surfaces must be disinfected after the client departs.
  15. Staff gloves and mask are disposed of in the assigned disposal bin and the staff member washes their face and hands at the end of the session.
  16. Quarantined material cannot be used by other client or library staff during the period of quarantine.
  17. High demand material should be digitised to prevent repeated handling.
  18. The reading room and used machines are to be disinfected at the end of each working day.


Important Information For Physical Researchers/Clients:

  • Books and cultural material are inanimate surfaces. With regards to inanimate surfaces an opinion piece published by The New England Journal of Medicine  suggests that the corona-virus lives on copper for 4 hours, on cardboard for 1 day, and on plastic for 3 days.
  • Most importantly, a more detailed study has suggested that the human pathogens can persist on surfaces and remain infectious at room temperature for up to nine days. It means that corona family viruses can survive between four and five days on cultural material made of wood, paper, plastic and glass.
  • Of our particular concern the study shows that at the room temperature, the virus can last up to five days on paper and glass surfaces (Duan, et al. 2003).
  • High air humidity and low temperature will increase the virus’s lifespan. A temperature of 30 degrees celcius or more and the relative humidity lower than 50% might help reducing the virus’s duration of persistence in comparison with lower temperature and higher humidity (Kampf, et al. 2020) for disinfection purposes.
  • Accordingly, and in the absence of possibility of constant disinfection of all books and cultural material, we suggest the following:
    • All persons handling cultural materials should wear gloves for all the duration that they work with items including the collection staff as well as clients.
    • All persons adopt social distancing recommendations
    • All people who have been in contact with anyone traveling from overseas, or showing flu like symptoms of the virus, should refrain from coming in.
    • All users to wear masks to avoid transmission of droplets to the paper or glass material. If you possess a face mask, to please wear it (as we have been unable to source supplies to date)
    • A register of the people who have accessed the Cultural Collections and items consulted during the Covid-19 outbreak will be kept, in case we need to disinfect any items in future.
    • Observing precautions in place, all use of Cultural Collections should be arranged by appointment only.
    • All the shared appliances such as keyboards, door handles, copy machine, fridge and kettle handles need to be cleaned on regular basis.


For digital researchers:

  • We have a great content in high resolution across a number of digital and social media platforms. See above.
  • We hold thousands of rare books dating from 1544, mostly donated through a variety of individuals, organisations, private collections, as well as academics associated with the University of Newcastle and Hunter Region. There are also extensive and unique holdings of primary source regional archives relating to European people who made Australia their home dating from 1826 and of enormous importance to understanding the growth and evolution of the Hunter Region, as well as Aboriginal artefacts dating back at least 7,000 years and research material relating to the study of Australian Aboriginal language and culture.
  • To locate individual rare books within the collections, as well as some archival collections, search our NEWCAT database here, and limit the search to “Cultural Collections”:
  • To search across our holdings, including online digital items:
  • To browse our archival finding aids, rare book collection descriptions, and background, please consult our official UON Website here:


For Work Integrated Learning Students (GLAMx) and their Lecturers & Co-ordinators:

  • HUMA3003 Humanities Practicum (2020)
    Work on various Projects to build practical and digital skills related to the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector.
    Status: Semester 2 (early August)
    Contingency: Projects can be negotiated to be worked part-time virtually as well as in-Lab experience,  electronic file via Cloudstor etc. and virtual support.


  • CIND3500 Professional Placement
    Activity: A range of opportunities for Communication students to work on projects, such as the NBN Television archive, day/time to be determined. Co-ordinator Paul Scott, School of Creative Industries.
    Status: Semester 2 (early August)
    Contingency: Projects can be negotiated to be worked part-time virtually as well as in-Lab experience,  electronic file via Cloudstor etc. and virtual support.


  • CIND3002 – Major Project A
    Ongoing support during 2020 to 3 CIND3002 GLAM studies students (Major creative industries project) Co-ordinators Dr Una Rey and Dr Helena Bezzina.
    Contingency: Contact co-ordinator/students to inform that only online video or Zoom seminars will be available, as well as email/phone communication.


Hunter Living Histories Meetings

  • Zoom meetings only for participants who can access the technology.


We wish you and your families all the best at this difficult time, and we are committed to provide you as best digital access to crucial historical content related to the Hunter and Central Coast Regions as best we can.

Yours sincerely,

The University of Newcastle Library’s Cultural Collections/GLAMx/Hunter Living Histories Team




Duan, Shu-Ming, XS Zhao, RF Wen, JJ Huang, GH Pi, SX Zhang, J Han, SL Bi, L Ruan, and Dong XP. 2003. “Stability of SARS Coronavirus in Human Specimens and Environment and Its Sensitivity to Heating and UV Irradiation.” Biomedical and Environmental Sciences 16 (3): 246-255 .

Editor. 2020. “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1.” The new England Journal of Medicine 1-3.

Kampf, Günter, Daniel Todt, Stephanie Pfaender, and Eike Steinmann. 2020. “Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and its inactivation with biocidal agents.” Journal of Hospital Infection 104: 246-251.