When bed bugs get bookish

In recent weeks, several Lower Mainland libraries have discovered live bed bugs in their books.

By Jeremy Deutsch

Kamloops This Week

It’s a story fit for the science section of a library. For some, though, this tale might belong in the horror shelves.

In recent weeks, several Lower Mainland libraries have discovered live bed bugs in their books.

The creepy-crawly revelation has library officials with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) on the lookout for the bloodsucking pests.

Kevin Kierans, director of libraries for the TNRD, told KTW no bed bugs have been detected in libraries in Kamloops or across the regional district.

However, the outbreak in Metro Vancouver has prompted the TNRD to establish procedures if bed bugs in the Interior suddenly acquire a taste for good prose.

The bed-bug topic will be discussed next week at a library branch and department head meeting, at which a set of procedures will be established.

Kierans said he spoke with his counterparts in Burnaby and Vancouver to learn more about the strategies libraries in those communities are using to battle the bugs.

If a patron finds a book with bugs, the book is to be placed in a bag, with the book either thrown away or one of two cleaning methods — a heating and a freezing process — employed to rid the pages of the unwelcome visitors so it can be read again.

If a bugs are found in a book at home, the library doesn’t want it back.

Kierans sent the recommendations to the Interior Health Authority to determine if they need to be modified for this region.

The procedures would be implemented at all 13 libraries in the district, including the Barriere Library.

The bugs were first detected last month at two libraries in Burnaby — in books in the  thriller-mystery section — and then at libraries in New Westminster and Vancouver.

Staff at those libraries have been steam-cleaning the books in the affected areas.

Kierans is surprised to hear about bugs infiltrating libraries, since the facilities would appear to offer a less-than-ideal environment for the pests. However, he pointed to the rise in bed bugs in general.

“What happens out there happens here as well,” he said, noting staff do what they can by keeping the buildings as clean as possible.