The Mid-Manhattan branch of The New York Public Library has been battling bed bugs

by nobugsonme on August 5, 2010 · 11 comments

in bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, bed bugs in the workplace, libraries, new york, new york city, spread of bed bugs


WPIX reports that The New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan location on 5th Avenue at 40th Street has been battling bed bugs.

And WPIX’s source claims the library is downplaying employee concerns about the issue:

The employee told us a co-worker was bitten by a bed bug in early July, while checking out books for a patron at the circulation desk and other bugs have been spotted since then. The employee told Pix 11 that dogs have been utilized to sniff for bed bugs and ‘some books have been taken out of the shelves to be thrown away or frozen, so it is in the public areas, not just where we work.’

Gail Snible, spokesperson for the New York Public Library, disputed this claim: ‘It is not an infestation, so the library didn’t have to close,’ Snible said. ‘Yes, there were two bed bugs found in a circulation desk area. There haven’t been any found since then. We’re taking precautions.’

The employee interviewed claims people are still finding bedbugs and that

‘They fumigate wherever somebody says they found something. They’re not fumigating the whole library. They’re doing it in spots.’ Bed bugs can travel on clothing and in bags, so the worker added: ‘Everybody’s scared that they’re going to get into their homes.’

Interestingly, entomologist Richard Cooper gave a lecture for the public about bed bugs at the Mid-Manhattan NYPL  back at the start of May. It was entitled, “Bed Bugs: What You Don’t Know Could Come Back to Bite You.”

The WPIX video above shows a man outside the library asking, “But do bed bugs live in books?”

Yes. They can.

If you are taking home books, you should inspect them carefully — page by page, as well as the binding and covers. This is especially true if they come from a library, eBay, or other secondhand sources.

I hope the bed bug problems truly are gone at the Mid-Manhattan library, but be warned: bedbugs may be in any library right now.  Take precautions as if they are.

A tip of the hat to diebbsdie for alerting us to the WPIX story here.

You can read other stories about bed bugs in libraries and library books here.

Update (8/5):

In the Voice’s Runnin’ Scared blog today, Jen Doll spoke with NYPL spokesperson Gail Snible, who emphasized that the problem at Mid-Manhattan amounted to two bed bugs which are gone.

The Voice also received a statement from the NYPL which stated,

The New York Public Library takes very seriously the issue of bedbugs throughout New York and so many other cities. The only incident we have had at our 92 buildings involved two bedbugs discovered at the Mid-Manhattan Library last month. Canine teams were immediately brought in to search the entire facility, with areas determined by the dogs to be “hotspots” thoroughly exterminated. Fortunately, no other actual bugs were found beyond the first two. The canine team continues to closely monitor Mid-Manhattan, and has detected no further problems.

The statement also notes that all NYPL branches are being proactive in preventing bed bugs:

All NYPL libraries are regularly and thoroughly cleaned in ways to best prevent bedbug or other building problems, including carpets shampooed and all surfaces disinfected. Exterminators spray each building on a monthly basis and are closely monitoring for bedbugs. These steps have been widely effective in preventing any bedbug outbreak in our libraries.

I assume those spray treatments are for other pests, since I understand it’s illegal to treat for bed bugs without evidence of their presence.

As I said in the Runnin’ Scared comments,  I’d be surprised if bed bugs have not set up harborage in some of the 92 NYPL branches, given the ease with which they spread.  They may not have been spotted yet.

However, as the Community Health Survey noted 1 in 15 New Yorkers had bed bugs in the past year.  They are really getting around.  They’re likely in a lot of places right now where they have not yet been detected.

I am glad the libraries are being proactive against bed bugs, and I think it is extremely necessary for all public locations to do the same.

Bed bugs spread easily — it’s not a matter of if, but when a location will be struck.

Finally, I want to note that I still think people should use libraries!

As common as bed bugs are becoming, I still travel, I still stay in hotels and go to cafés, I still go to the occasional movie, and I still think the NYPL is a great resource.   Don’t stop living — just be careful out there!

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1 parakeets August 5, 2010 at 7:56 am

Good advice here. My concern is that people who hear this story might erroneously wonder if it was New Yorkers with bed bug infestations who went to Rick Cooper’s lecture in this library in May who brought the bed bugs into the library. No one knows how the library got bed bugs. I hope this won’t stop public libraries from continuing to offer bed bug lectures. There should be more lectures open to the public about bed bugs. Education is the key, and this forum is a fabulous source of bed bug education. I hope Nobugs is using the work she does for this blog towards a doctorate in education. This is the college of bedbug knowledge.

2 nobugsonme August 5, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks for your comments and your kind words about the site, Parakeets. You have contributed much to our body of bed bug knowledge.

Bed bugs — happy hitchhikers — are likely to come into libraries via patrons, workers, and books (which, as I note, often lie around on or near beds and other infested areas).

Bed bug lectures are important, and I agree that people should not assume anyone attending the lecture brought the bed bugs in.

I did think it was interesting that this site had hosted the lecture recently. It may mean employees were more aware of bed bugs and how to spot them, if any of the workers or management were able to listen to the lecture.

The important message to take away here is that bed bugs are spreading everywhere, and every library is at risk.

3 Ken August 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm

So the press cannot properly identify a bedbug…
what else is new? Many ‘churnalists’ are addicted to
AP and Reuters and cannot think for themselves.
Remember when there was a Holocaust and the press did not
report the stories? So millions of people had to die?

The bit about Mid-Manhattan library really hit home, I have seen bedbugs there,
lots of people there so really no control over them. They LOVE books…I cannot emphasise enough that they actually prefer books to beds…and piles of paper are
their breeding and moulting grounds.

4 Lauren August 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm

While it’s almost impossible to prove from where your infestation came, I had a hunch our bugs came from library books/our library tote bag often set on chairs of our public library. It’s very sad, but I haven’t permitted my children to set foot inside our library in two years.

5 Winston O. Buggy August 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I was over in the 833/.912 stack and what did I see, but a cimex reading “Metamorphosis” just looking at me. He wiggled and waggled his proboscis at rest and went on reading and putting the librarians to the test.

6 diebbsdie August 5, 2010 at 9:26 pm

thanks for the tip of the hat, nobugs!

It is very sad indeed to not go to the library anymore. This bed bug thing just keeps getting worse.

RE: Pix11 News Channel in NYC does seem to be doing a lot of stories on bed bugs recently. I don’t really watch any other stations, so I can’t really compare, but it seems like at least two of their anchors have had the bugs. One is their editorial/opinion person who did a rant on them recently, and the other, John in the morning, always looks completely freaked out after any story on them, which makes me think maybe he’s had a brush with them.

7 nobugsonme August 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Lauren and diebbsdie,

I have not stopped using the library, though I am cautious, as I am everywhere these days.

diebbsdie, Thank you!

Just added above:

Update (8/5):

In the Voice’s Runnin’ Scared blog today, Jen Doll spoke with NYPL spokesperson Gail Snible, and the Voice also received a statement from the NYPL which stated,

The New York Public Library takes very seriously the issue of bedbugs throughout New York and so many other cities. The only incident we have had at our 92 buildings involved two bedbugs discovered at the
Mid-Manhattan Library last month. Canine teams were immediately brought in to search the entire facility, with areas determined by the dogs to be “hotspots” thoroughly exterminated. Fortunately, no other actual bugs
were found beyond the first two. The canine team continues to closely monitor Mid-Manhattan, and has detected no further problems.

The statement also notes that all NYPL branches are being proactive in preventing bed bugs:

All NYPL libraries are regularly and thoroughly cleaned in ways to best prevent bedbug or other building problems, including carpets shampooed and all surfaces disinfected. Exterminators spray each building on a
monthly basis and are closely monitoring for bedbugs. These steps have been widely effective in preventing any bedbug outbreak in our libraries.

I assume those spray treatments are for other pests, since I understand it’s illegal to treat for bed bugs without evidence of their presence.

As I said in the Runnin’ Scared comments, I’d be surprised if bed bugs have not set up harborage in some of the 92 NYPL branches, given the ease with which they spread. They may not have been spotted yet.

However, as the Community Health Survey noted 1 in 15 New Yorkers had bed bugs in the past year. They are really getting around. They’re likely in a lot of places right now where they have not yet been detected.

I am glad the libraries are being proactive against bed bugs, and I think it is extremely necessary for all public locations to do the same.

Bed bugs spread easily — it’s not a matter of if, but when a location will be struck.

Finally, I want to note that I still think people should use libraries!

As common as bed bugs are becoming, I still travel, I still stay in hotels and go to cafés, I still go to the occasional movie, and I still think the NYPL is a great resource. Don’t stop living — just be careful out there!

8 Ken August 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

And I just saw one at the Apple Superstore on 14th & 9th…
As one poster said, it’s only a matter of time.
The Post and the Daily News are not listening, but I met a reporter who had done their homework, and is now working on a story.
They turned me on to http://www.bedbugregistry.com and I was schocked – they had hotels all around the ‘Ground Zero’ building infested, including the Seton Hotel on W27!
I could not however navigate that site enough to post the information about the place on 8th Avenue I am complaining about.
OK, so there is a bedbug registry, but is there a registry for bad journalists who either slander people or are too lazy to do articles that are on use to the public? I mean, some just sit on their butts all day copying Reuters. I would like to be a mean old dictator and sent them to prison for this…and we’d all live happily ever after without another stupid Lindsay Lohan story in the press.

9 D.C. September 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm

So DISGUSTING… I was just in the Mid Manhattan library this morning, at 10AM, when I saw a bedbug walking on a shelf that was full of DVD’s… I took a picture of it… I told a woman sitting at the information desk about it, and she wanted me to tell the supervisor, but I didn’t have the time to do that…
They will NEVER get rid of this infestation unless they destroy all the books; rip up the carpeting and the furniture, , and then start fresh… But, this will never be… So, the infestation will prevail… Cooler weather is coming, and employees will be wearing coats that they will be hanging up while they are working… They will then put their coats back on and go home, where they will be transferring the critters to their home… Good Luck!!!

10 nobugsonme September 27, 2010 at 6:00 pm

D.C., I really, really hope you will go back or phone the supervisor and let them know what happened. A patron’s complaint may be taken more seriously than one given secondhand.

11 iluvbedbugs October 8, 2010 at 4:15 am

Ken:

I like your idea for a registry for bad journalists. So long as capital governs what they write, journalism will continue to be a dishonest career.

If nothing else transpires from this crisis, this idea will make it all worthwhile. I will not miss Lindsay Lohan or any of the other kooks who make news.

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