Friday, July 15, 2005


Friday semen blogging

It's nice to be able to merge, once in awhile, your professional life with your hobby. Thus we get today's semen blogging.

Librarians lean, generally, more toward the literary/artistic/humanities side of life (as do administrative assistants, I've found). One significant exception is preservationists, who definitely are more science-y. What I like about science-y people is that they can discuss important things like semen without getting all ... well, gooey about it. Or resorting-to-euphemisms about it.

An example:

Occasionally there have been questions on the list about what to do with library materials that have been soiled with body fluids (blood, semen, vomit, urine, etc.) We recently had such an incident and I contacted University of Michigan Biosafety Officer Mike Hanna for help developing a policy for handling such material. I'll share with you the procedures we have established; because regulations may vary from place to place I strongly recommend that you check with local officials before writing your own policy.

Generally, Mr. Hanna informs me, small quantities of dry contaminants are a low safety hazard; large or moist soiled areas, however, may pose a potential infection source to staff or patrons. Disposal is recommended for heavily soiled materials; disinfection, when possible, is the preferred method for handling lightly contaminated materials. For disposal purposes, contaminated books and parts do not constitute regulated waste. Soiled paper or book covers may be discarded in the regular trash without special procedures. You should avoid direct contact with the soiled parts of the books, using latex gloves if necessary.

We have recommended that library staff, when confronted with a soiled book, consider the following options:

* Discard the book and seek a replacement copy; this option is strongly recommended if there is heavy soiling;
* If only a few pages are soiled, secure photocopies of the damaged pages; cut out the soiled pages and tip in the photocopies;
* If only the cover is soiled, cut off the covers and discard them; arrange with a binder to have the book recased.

Circulation desks should keep latex gloves and resealable plastic bags on hand for handling and isolating soiled books.

If it is not appropriate to discard and replace the soiled parts of a book, it *may* be possible to disinfect them. Mr. Hanna suggested three disinfectants that are used for blood/body fluid spill disinfection: bleach, diluted 1:100 fresh daily (500 ppm); Quaternary ammonium compound (e.g. Virex); and 70% Isopropyl alcohol. Bleach will cause deterioration of paper and other book materials over time; I am not familiar with quaternary ammonium compound; isopropyl alcohol MAY be safe on some materials, but it may cause some inks or colors to bleed. Disinfection in this case is clearly a job for a trained conservator and should not be attempted by untrained staff.

"Heavily soiled" ... the images I have in my head might make it impossible for me to ever visit a library again.

Updated to add: CRIMINY! I forgot to credit Wendy as my research assistant and the genesis of this post! Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose...

JONATHAN!!! opposite day does not mean you get to do the opposite of what you said, and you said you were going to cite me as the research assistant on this since i am the one who succesfully found web resources on semen and libraries, including the one you posted. which is thanks to the wonderful people at the university of michigan. BITCHES credit your sources.
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