Bookworms give way to bedbugs as Montreal's largest library deals with outbreak

By Canadian Press
July 12, 2018 - 2:09pm

Montreal's Grande Bibliotheque library says it's taking measures to bid good night to bedbugs and reassure users they are not at risk of any bites.

Executive director Danielle Chagnon said the library has been largely given the all-clear after a recent infestation of the bugs and that just a small part remained off limits Thursday.

Montreal's largest library never closed and services have been maintained since the outbreak came to light in late June and early July.

The tiny, apple seed-shaped bugs are usually active at night, feed on human blood and, although irritating, don't pose a major health risk.

There are no known cases of them transmitting infectious diseases.

"We're confident the situation is now over and users can feel secure and at ease when they come to the library," Chagnon said.

Several Canadian libraries have been dealing with bedbugs in recent years and it wasn't even the first time the Montreal institution has had an infestation.

But Chagnon said the number of critters was more than previously encountered and required more elaborate action.

The pest problem has meant the library's 300 fabric lounge chairs — containing material and stuffing ideal for the bedbugs to hide — have been placed in storage.

They were removed and replaced with hard plastic chairs, with a permanent solution to come.

Chagnon said an extermination company was hired quickly and has been making frequent inspections of the building as well reviewing protocols in place.

"The inspections will last as long as the problem isn't dealt with 100 per cent," she said.

Harold Leavey, who heads the Maheu Ltee. extermination firm, said bedbugs are becoming more common in major cities all over the country — in particular in places where lots of people congregate such as hospitals or universities.

"It's a problem on the rise in Montreal," said Leavey. "Pretty much every well-attended public area has bedbug episodes."

Chagnon said the library welcomes between 7,000 and 8,000 people daily, comparing it to a self-contained town.

"It may be possible that people carry bedbugs with them when they come to the library and we have a sensible way to deal with that," she said.

If they see someone scratching for example, they'll raise the issue with them and provide advice. But there's no question of policing who comes and goes, she added.

"One of the core values of public libraries is to be accessible to everybody," Chagnon said.

 

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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