Bed bugs have turned up in the Norwood branch library, and the “hardest hit” department of the library system has been Outreach Services, which brings books to senior citizens and schools.
So how are local libraries trying to avoid problems with bed bugs?
The Enquirer reports that
In Cincinnati, library employees handling returns are on the lookout for the bedbugs, [Amy Bannister, spokeswoman for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County] said.
If an employee suspects a book houses bedbugs[…] staff members seal the book in a plastic bag and place it in a specified holding area underneath the library. The book is monitored until the bug has either died or the book is deemed beyond saving, where it is then discarded. Bannister wouldn’t say how many books have been discarded.
The library has fumigated, quarantined books, and in five cases destroyed them, she said. The library also uses pest control services to treat any areas that are severely infested. If a piece of furniture is infested, it is destroyed and discarded.
I am glad that the library has protocols in place.
However, waiting until a bug dies in a ziploc bag is a bit of a haphazard process. We don’t know how long a bed bug can live in a ziploc bag, but it could be quite a long time. And it would be hard to determine if the book harbors other bed bugs, or eggs.
I’d recommend some sort of treatment process instead, in order to solve the problem quickly and with confidence. A Packtite would be an option for killing bugs and eggs, and might save a lot of books — or at least make sure discarded books don’t spread problems further.
There’s also apparently a larger commercial product known as “JDL 2000” or “The Bug Oven” which is much pricier (in the $4000 range), but would hold more stock for heat treatment.
Frankly, I’d feel a whole lot better if every book returned was treated with a Packtite to ensure it was bed bug-free, though this would not ensure that patrons did not bring bugs in via their clothing and bags.