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Shawnee library continues to treat bed bugs; reopening delayed

Posted: 11:41 AM, Oct 02, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-02 22:46:37Z

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- For a library that sees almost 2 million people each year, having bed bugs is a serious problem.

After finding the insects late last week, staff at the Shawnee branch of the Johnson County Library took several steps to get rid of the problem.

The building has been fumigated, and librarians are now working to remove the bed bugs from the books. 

"The best way to remedy bed bugs in a book is to bake them," said Christopher Leitch, communications relations coordinator for Johnson County Library.

Staff started on a smaller scale with a bug zapper.

"It's foil-lined and it has a little heater attached. It will heat the books to 120 degrees, and we keep them in there for about an hour and a half," Leitch said.

The machine protects the books, he said.

"That cooks the bugs, which we are able to clean out, and it doesn't harm the books at all, which is important to us,” Leitch said.

Staff have also utilized the help of Orkin, a pest control service. The company is using a heat chamber to kill the bugs, instead of using chemicals.

"We want to control bed bugs or mitigate this problem right here in as friendly of a way as possible," said Tim Husen, technical services manager at Orkin.

Experts said anybody can get bed bugs.

"I think it's important for the public to be aware that this is a problem that's happening right now. There is no cleanliness factor. There is no socioeconomic factor to it," Husen said.

For the rest of the week, Shawnee library staff will inspect any item that can be checked out, as well as bake more books to get rid of any bed bugs.

Leitch said the library will also be doing more inspections from now on.

"We are going to be doing it on a more frequent basis. I don't know exactly what that schedule is, but we will be inspecting with staff, with specialists, pest control," he said.

The library hopes to reopen by next week. The reopening was postponed because of a delay in equipment, according to a news release Tuesday. 

In the meantime, anyone with items to return should put them in a sealable plastic bag and drop them off at any Johnson County Library branch.