Library officials are implementing precautionary procedures after bedbugs were discovered in one patron’s books this week.
“First, we want to assure people there is no cause for concern,” said Sena Loyd, director of the Carson City Library. “The situation was handled properly, and processes are in place to deal with situations that may arise in the future.”
The infected books were discovered by librarian Maria Klesta within 10 minutes of being dropped off on Tuesday, she said. The books were quarantined and removed from the library. Carson City Health and Human Services and pest control services were called in, and all of the books in the same area were also placed in a black bags and removed.
After inspection, bugs were found on five items, which have been removed from the library, Loyd said. An additional 34 titles will remain quarantined and heat treated as a precaution. Book carts and bins were also given several disinfecting treatments.
“We want to make sure everything is clean before it goes back into the collection,” Loyd said.
Dustin Boothe, epidemiologist for Carson City Health and Human Services, said the library followed proper protocols.
“They’re working to be extra cautious,” Boothe said. “They’re doing their due diligence in trying not to spread the problem.”
Loyd pointed out that libraries across the country face similar problems.
“This is not isolated to our library,” she said. “It is an issue nationwide. We do not want to alarm the public, we just want to educate people to know what to look for and how to properly handle it.”
While some libraries revoke the privileges of those who return affected books, Loyd said the Carson City Library won’t institute any penalties.
“We still want those individuals to be able to access the library,” she said. “We just want to make sure we’re protecting the rest of the community as well.”
Anyone who knows or suspects their books or other materials have been exposed to bedbugs is being asked to return the items to the front desk rather than in the book drop. Ideally, the items should be placed in a sealed zip locked bag. Zip lock bags will also be available at the library front desk to put items in before returning.
Boothe said bedbugs can exist in any type of environment across all socioeconomic statuses and are not known to carry any disease.
If bedbugs are detected, Boothe said, the best course of action is contacting a certified pest control specialist.
“The chemicals that kill the bugs are also harmful for humans. Certified professionals will know which chemicals are safe for children or animals,” he said. “They’re trained for that.”
If anyone has suspicions a book may have been exposed, the library is asking that patron to notify staff.
“Even if it’s just a bookworm,” said Diane Baker, the library’s business director.