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.
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!