So, Your Library Books Might Have Bedbugs

Say what you will about eReaders, but NewsFeed is pretty sure they're less likely to house vermin.

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Listen up, all you anti-eBook luddites out there. Sure, we can all agree that there’s something special about the experience of holding a well-worn book in your hands. But according to the New York Times, that book — especially if it’s hardcover, and especially if it came from a public library — might be home to bedbugs. Eek.

So say what you will about eReaders, but NewsFeed is pretty sure they’re less likely to house vermin. (If you’d kindly direct your attention to the scoreboard, the standings currently show: eBooks: 1. Old-school library books: 0.)

As everybody knows, bedbugs are life-ruiners. Sure, there are ways to prevent the pests from infiltrating your home, but now it appears that an activity as innocuous as reading in bed could leave you personally victimized by the insatiable little beasts. The Times reports that the tiny bugs and their even stealthier eggs can hide in the spines of hardcover books, later crawling out to get comfy in your home.

(LIST: Top 10 Evil Animals)

Apparently, libraries across the country have received complaints about this problem over the past few years — and several are attempting to address it. Some libraries are training a few lucky staff members to check the stacks for live bedbugs and carcasses, and then treat any suspect items with heat. Other libraries have employees vacuum couches — where bedbugs can also live — or reupholster furniture entirely, using materials like vinyl, which are less inviting to the tiny insects.

After one patron complained of a bedbug bite received while sitting in a lounge chair, a library in Kansas brought in a bedbug-sniffing dog  to seek out problem areas. The staff ended up heat-treating all public furniture, just to be safe. Several other libraries across the country have also invested in heat-treating systems like PackTite.

To some library patrons, though, these methods are simply not enough. And so for the readers who harbor a crippling fear of bedbugs, the only real solution is to stop renting their reading materials altogether. But in the end, can we really let our fear of these life-ruining little devils control our every move? It appears that the limit to this madness does not exist.

MORE: Joel Stein: What’s So Bad About Bed Bugs?