Skip to main content

Bedbugs are causing a problem for libraries in the Lower Mainland.Reuters/Reuters

Bedbugs are being found in library books across the Lower Mainland, leading librarians to trash books and close branches in a bid to stop the bugs from spreading.

The discovery earlier this week of live bugs in a book borrowed from the Mount Pleasant branch of the Vancouver Public Library was the latest in a string of similar incidents. The discovery came shortly after the closure of libraries in New Westminster and Burnaby for their infestations.

"It's gross. It's awful," said Mount Pleasant library patron Kari Madsen, who was borrowing books Thursday, two days after bugs had been discovered.

"I probably will now inspect them before I get home," said the mother of two, who was holding a number of books when leaving the branch.

"It kind of makes me a bit uncomfortable."

Vancouver Public Library is now planning to contract a company to inspect all of its facilities to determine the scope of the problem and whether further action is required.

According to Jean Kavanagh, a communications manager with the Vancouver Public Library, the occasional dead bug is nothing new to librarians, but the discovery of live ones has been surprising.

"The situation at Mount Pleasant was the first time we heard of a number of live bedbugs," said Ms. Kavanagh, who represents city libraries – not those in New Westminster and Burnaby. She noted that the book in which the bugs were found had been borrowed from the branch roughly two weeks earlier.

Ms. Kavanagh said staff did a careful search of the section that housed the offending book but could find no trace of other bugs.

"This is one incident of about six bugs," she said, adding that there had been no talk of closing the branch as a precautionary measure.

Patron Rebeca Reyes visited the Mount Pleasant branch Thursday afternoon and was surprised to hear of the discovery. She said she'll "probably go to another library."

According to Denise Louzecky at BC Bug, a Vancouver-owned pest control company, books are not ideal places for bugs to live and survive, but they will occasionally nest in them.

"People fall asleep with a book in their bed or on their bedside table," Ms. Louzecky explained. She said bugs may choose to nest there because it's close to where they feed.

Ms. Louzecky said people may want to check books before they bring them home.

"[Bedbugs]resemble an apple seed in size and shape," she said, adding that they often leave traces of fecal matter or shed skins where they nest.

Some library patrons were not overly worried about the discovery.

"It's concerning, but its nothing novel," said Angela Skipper, who noted it's not uncommon to find bedbugs in Vancouver.

Librarians across jurisdictions are now advising patrons to bag and seal any book that is suspected of being infested, and to notify the branch from where it came.

If it's too late and the bugs have spread, you could always check your local library for books on controlling the pests.

Try The Bed Bug Survival Guide by Jeff Eisenberg. It's in stock at the Mount Pleasant Branch, and yes, it's bug-free.

Interact with The Globe