“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” 

I used to think that was just a cute little rhyme that you quote to your children at bedtime.  I thought bed bugs were something that had disappeared from modern life around the same time as the black plague.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The morning of March 6th, we found evidence of bed bugs.  We immediately shut down the library and had an exterminator here within a few hours.  The building was thoroughly treated from top to bottom.  Evidence of bedbugs was only found in the area of a couple of computer chairs, but we treated EVERYTHING.  All of the computer chairs (even those with no sign of bugs) have been removed and replaced by plastic and metal stacking chairs with no inviting seams for the pests to crawl into.

Thankfully, no evidence was found that they had found their way to the stacks, or to the children’s department, or to any of our other meeting or work rooms.

We will close for a day once again in a couple of weeks for a second treatment to be sure that we get any bed bugs that might hatch between now and then.

A month after that we have hired a dog trained to sniff out bed bugs, just to make sure that we didn’t let any get away.  And we will be vigilant looking out for any signs of new infestations.

We want to assure you all that we are doing and will continue to do all that we can do to keep all of us safe even though the price tag for these services is running into the thousands of dollars.

If you remember, we also had an occurrence of bed bugs last October.  At that time we also immediately dealt with the problem, and hadn’t seen any since then.  But unfortunately, someone once again brought them in.

So we are asking for your help.  Obviously, there is a bed bug problem in Spencer.  The Health Department is bringing us some flyers to share with the public to educate everyone about bedbugs, how to recognize them and what to do about them.   We are asking our patrons to please be diligent about checking your own homes for bed bugs, and if you find the signs and symptoms, please stay away from the library until you have dealt with the problem.

I’m no expert on the subject, but as I understand it:  anyone can get bedbugs.  If you stay in a hotel, check for bed bugs; people often unwittingly bring them home in their luggage.   If you live in a multi-family dwelling like an apartment, you may need to be extra vigilant that bedbugs don’t make their way to you from another apartment.  If you have children, they may bring them home from other children with whom they have been in close contact.

Educate yourself about the signs:  Do you wake up with red spots, or insect bites?  You may have bed bugs.  Check the seams of your mattress and bedding (their favorite place to hide).   Look for black dots (their waste) red trails (which they leave after they have dined on your blood), insect parts and body shells (they shed their skin 4 times in their life cycle), or for live, crawling, moving, bugs that range from yellow to brown to red in color.  They are flat bugs that are as tiny as the head of a pin when they first hatch but can get about as big as the face of Abraham Lincoln on a penny at full maturity.

If you find these signs, please do not come into the library until you have successfully dealt with them.

We check every book as it comes back into the library…we always have.  And we have a way to treat books with bed bugs IF the damage is not too extensive.  But, if you discover that you have library books that contain live or dead bugs, or are spotted with black dots, we very much prefer that you just call us and tell us what you found.   Do not bring them back to us, we do not want them in the building.   So far we have never found an infestation in the books themselves, and we want to keep it that way.

We don’t want to deny service to anyone unless it’s absolutely necessary, but we do reserve the right to suspend service when it is a matter of the safety and well-being of the library, it’s staff, and the other patrons.