Are Bed Bugs Biting at the New York Public Library?


Aw, bed bugs! Always trying to advance themselves and learn (and feast on the blood of intellectual sorts who enjoy such pursuits as reading and research). According to a WPIX newscast posted on this a.m., the nasty little creatures have been found in the New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan branch at 455 Fifth Avenue, at 40th Street. The story goes that a co-worker was bitten by a bed bug in early July, and that other bugs have been spotted since then — the implication being that the library was not doing enough to deal with the problem.

WPIX has since updated their story, however, to reflect that the situation has been contained. We spoke with Gayle Snible, spokesperson for the New York Public Library, who clarified a few things.

So, Gayle, what actually happened?
We found two bed bugs — that is absolutely all. This was not an infestation. As one of our steps to make sure we did not have any problems, we brought in a dog, which sniffed the entire library, and we found no additional bed bugs. We did find hot spots, and we fumigated all of those, which the exterminator recommended. We’re following all of the exterminator’s recommendations.

When did all this go down?
This happened in the last two weeks. Fumigation was completed over the weekend. This is an ongoing process. We had the dog in on several occasions, and we’ve dealt with each instance of a hot spot as it’s come up. A full cleaning of the library was completed over the weekend.

What about other libraries in the system?
I do not know about any other bugs in any other branches.

What will you be doing to prevent further bug sightings?
We’re staying on top of it, and have been dealing with it proactively.

Further, per a statement just issued from the library exclusively to the Voice:

The New York Public Library takes very seriously the issue of bedbugs
throughout New York and so many other cities. The only incident we have
had at our 92 buildings involved two bedbugs discovered at the
Mid-Manhattan Library last month. Canine teams were immediately brought
in to search the entire facility, with areas determined by the dogs to be
“hotspots” thoroughly exterminated. Fortunately, no other actual bugs
were found beyond the first two. The canine team continues to closely
monitor Mid-Manhattan, and has detected no further problems.

All NYPL libraries are regularly and thoroughly cleaned in ways to best
prevent bedbug or other building problems, including carpets shampooed
and all surfaces disinfected. Exterminators spray each building on a
monthly basis and are closely monitoring for bedbugs. These steps have
been widely effective in preventing any bedbug outbreak in our libraries.

We understand the concern among staff members, and have taken steps to
ensure all employees understand that their buildings are under careful
bedbug monitoring. We are prepared to move quickly at the first sign of
a bedbug at any of our locations.

As Snible told us, “Most site managers around New York City are thinking about bed bugs.”

As are we all…as are we all. Contrary to popular belief, and as an entomologist told us just last week, bed bugs don’t only live in beds and rugs and fluffy things — they like clutter, or at least it provides a good place for them to hide and survive until their next “blood meal” (yuck) — which means libraries, as well as office buildings, retail stores, and God only knows where else — NEW YORK CITY!!! — aren’t immune to their charm. These bugs can be anywhere, people. Not to scare you. Let’s keep our wits about us and we’ll be okay.

Meanwhile, Mid-Manhattan actually sounds like it may be the best place to go to check out books these days, if that’s your kinda thing.