KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Bed bugs were found in recently returned Kalamazoo Public Library books.
Library spokesperson Farrell Howe confirmed to 24 Hour News 8 that a couple of books returned through the Washington Square Branch's drop box were found to contain bed bugs. They were quarantined -- sealed up in plastic bags -- and then destroyed.
"From what I understand, it was just one of those, 'Eww, look what I found and quick get me a bag,' kind of thing," Howe said about the staff member who found the infested books.
Library staff began regular bed bugs checks as an extra precaution when bed bugs began receiving a lot of media attention. Books are inspected upon their return to the library anyway, so staff was simply instructed to look for bed bugs during the check-in process.
Howe said it makes sense bed bugs would show up in public libraries -- and said she has heard of libraries across the country getting infested.
"A lot of people take their books to bed with them. When the lights come on, the bed bugs look for a place to hide, and book bindings are a good place," said Howe. "It's a logical place for them to go and hide. It's dry, it's clean, it's dark and it's safe, and then the book may come back to the library, and that's where it's incumbent on us to make sure that we're checking on those and make sure that they're not getting into the library itself and contaminate the rest of the books."
Howe believes this is the first time bed bugs have been found in a library book in Kalamazoo.
Library leaders said they are fairly confident the infestation didn't spread -- but shut down the library Monday as a precaution until exterminators can come check things out.
"We do believe we did catch it immediately with the inspection process, but to be proactive and to be safe we went ahead and closed the branch and then contacted the pest control company," said Howe.
Howe said she has heard of other libraries that didn't close immediately and then ended up with a bigger problem.
"They will be coming tomorrow with, believe it or not, a bed bug-sniffing dog," said Howe.
Trainer Mike Smith told 24 Hour News 8 Monday night that bed bug-sniffing dogs, who will be searching for the critters, are B.B. and Daytona.
"I search several libraries on a daily basis. I'm not surprised," said Smith. "For one thing, homeless population like to go keep warm in the library, and it's important that we keep people warm, but library books go into everybody's home."
Smith said his dogs have been sniffing out bed bugs for years, and this time they will be doing the work as a part of Griffin Pest Control.
Smith set up a training course for 24 Hour News 8 at a Battle Creek area school Monday evening to show what his dogs will do when, or if, they sniff out bed bugs hiding in the books.
== Photos: Bed bug-sniffing dogs B.B. and Daytona show off their skills ==
"My dogs are trained like bomb dogs," Smith said, explaining that they would sit and/or bark when their noses sniffed out live bed bugs.
Research shows dogs are able to home in quickly on the scent of the bugs, giving the human handlers a place to start looking -- and killing -- the pesky bloodsuckers.
Once officials confirm the library is clean, it will reopen. They told 24 Hour News 8 they hope they get a clean bill of health after Tuesday morning's inspection and will be able to reopen at the branch's regular opening time -- 1 p.m.
Officials with the Kent District Library in Kent County said they do not check for bed bugs because they have not had any issues. Herrick District Library in Holland officials said every book returned is visually inspected for pests. If something is found, the book is put into a sealed bag and thrown away.
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