Bedbugs Force Closures of Philadelphia Libraries

A lot more than books are making their way into Philadelphia's Free Public Library Branches.

A bedbug problem forced some libraries to close while exterminators were called.

The Northeast Regional Branch of the Philadelphia Free Public Library on Cottman Avenue was closed Wednesday and the Holmesburg Library was closed Thursday due to the bedbug problem.

Bedbugs were found in books and other materials. Library officials wouldn't disclose all of the locations the pests have popped up, but say there have been at least ten incidents in the last six months.

The libraries have been keeping the problem quiet for fear patrons will be afraid to visit. In fact, the sign on the door of the Holmesburg branch Thursday said the closure was due to an emergency.

"Patrons have not been notified because we handled the issue quickly.... That's not part of our protocol," Lynn Williamson, Chief of the Neighborhood Library Services Division told NBC10's Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

Protocol does not require employees to inspect all materials being returned. Those that have bed bugs or are suspected of having them are places in a heat box and cooked at 122 degrees for at least an hour to decontaminate the books and prevent the bugs from multiplying.

"I would say it's not a big problem because libraries are not places that house infestations of bedbugs. People don't sleep in libraries," Williamson said.

Back in September Philadelphia's 311 center closed for a day after one dead bedbug was found.

In October, the city's newly established "bedbug task force" met for the first time.

City contractors are also being used to exterminate the libraries. The Holmesburg branch was scheduled to re-open Friday.

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