Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Bed Bugs at the Local Library


A (becoming more) common bed bug.

I’m not a traveler, although I’ve done my share of traveling for book gigs.

The first thing I do when I get to my room is check the mattress near the headboard: a prime location for bedbugs to hide. If I spot them, my plan is to cancel my reservation on the spot. A new room wouldn’t cut it for me.

The problem with bedbugs is that they’re so insidious: you can fumigate, but they hide in fabric and behind walls. And the worst-case scenario for me would be staying in an infested room and then taking hitchhikers home with me in my luggage.

I nearly missed my vacation to the Carolinas this summer when the rental agency called to let us know that our beach house had been infested. They’d fumigated, but I (and thank goodness everyone else involved) refused to set foot in the rental. The agency found us a new home.

But now the threat hits even closer to home: someone returned infested books to the Urbana Public Library in Frederick about a week ago. (Old news, I know – but I just heard about this from a student – I don’t normally patronize the Urbana location.)

The book drop has been closed, and the library has suspended inter-library loans until they’re certain the problem has been arrested.

The library has called the patron who returned the books to let them know about the problem…but I’m left wondering if it’s possible that they didn’t know they had a bedbug problem. Bedbugs bite–and leave nasty sores behind! How could they not know?

So, I’ve got to ask: why would a patron dump the books in the drop and make Library staff discover the bugs? Did they think they wouldn’t get caught?

If the patron had done the responsible thing, the problem could have been isolated to a single location.

I guess I’ll be adding, “Check books for bugs,” to my “to do” list when I go to the library. (Stuff like this makes electronic books a better proposition, eh?)

4 comments to Bed Bugs at the Local Library

  • Charlie

    I wouldn’t fault the book borrower too much. I had no idea that bed bugs travel in books. I would have thought that bed bugs in a library hitched a ride on clothing or some other way. Some of the patrons of our local libraries have a little problem in the hygiene department.
    Now I would be concerned about the books themselves. What kind of chemicals and toxins will be on those books? And do you want to touch them?
    Ugh, this is too creepy!

  • Cindy

    Hi Kelly,

    I found your site through Night Owl. The bed bugs totally made me ichy. *shudder*

    • Hi Cindy! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. Aren’t they disgusting looking? I think I’d have to bathe in Purell if I found on a library book that I’d brought home.

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