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No bedbugs biting in Ithaca libraries

Library patrons and other assorted bookworms could be forgiven for bugging out over recent reports that bedbugs were infesting libraries across the country.

A much-debated Dec. 5 article in The New York Times said the tiny insects were stowing away in the spines of borrowed books and many libraries were trying to cope with the problem.

But local libraries say that’s just not the case in Tompkins County.

“I can put a lot of minds at ease,” said Tompkins County Public Library Director Susan Currie. “There’s absolutely no problem here with bedbugs.”

The county library has numerous protocols for how materials are handled, Currie said, with multiple staff members examining the condition of items for a variety of needs. Books are checked for damage and sometimes undergo preservation procedures. Some books are treated for torn covers and loose bindings. At each stage, someone is inspecting each item.

“All librarians are very careful and very vigilant viewing materials that are added to the collection and those that are circulated,” she said.

Cornell’s libraries have not had any problems with insect infestations either, according to Barbara Berger Eden, director of preservation for Cornell University Library.

“But we’re very confident that if this were to occur, we’d be able to safeguard our patrons, collections and facilities because we have a world-class preservation program,” she said. “Also, being at Cornell, we have access to internationally recognized entomology experts.”

To ensure that university libraries stay free of creepy crawlies, food and beverages are restricted to certain areas. All of the libraries, including the special collections and library annex, are climate-controlled so that materials remain cool and dry, conditions that are less attractive to bugs.

Read the full story in the Ithaca Journal.