British Columbia

Bedbugs battle still underway at Vancouver libraries

The Vancouver Public Library admits it's still finding dozens of bedbugs in branches across the city, despite tougher protocols introduced last year.

41 bug-finds reported, but tough protocols preventing wider infestation

The library's bedbug problem is virtually under control, but has not been eliminated. (CBC)

The Vancouver Public Library admits it has found dozens of bed bugs in branches across the city in the past year, despite tougher protocols.

The VPL put new procedures in place last year after the parasitic insects were found in libraries around the whole Lower Mainland, but 41 of the bugs have turned up this year in more than half of the city’s 22 branches.

Staff are trained to look for the critters, said spokesman Stephen Barrington.

If staff suspect an item is carrying one of the insects, librarians put the item in a plastic bag, seal it and throw it out.

Supervisors are notified and equipment and furniture are cleaned and treated.

"It's a very responsive approach, it's a very proactive approach. We know that it's working," Barrington said. "The incidents are indeed very low."

Barrington noted that VPL branches comprise about 500,000 square feet of floor space, with about 10 million items circulating each year and 6.5 million patron visits.

Library books blamed for home infestation

Library patron Gail Meredith's home became infested with bedbugs last spring. Meredith was forced to move out for 10 days and spent nearly $4,000 for an extermination.

'Everything I bring in, I put in the freezer for four days, then I check it really carefully.'—Library patron Gail Meredith

She said she’s not sure where the bugs came from, but the exterminator had a theory.

"The pest control people came to the conclusion that the only thing that was going on in my life that was likely to bring them in is my library books," Meredith told CBC News.

Meredith said she does still use the library, but more carefully now.

"Everything I bring in, I put in the freezer for four days, then I check it really carefully."

With files from the CBC's Robert Zimmerman