Bed bugs have been pests to mankind well before the first civilizations appeared on earth thousands of years ago. During the age of exploration, the parasitic insects spread to North America by hitching rides on ships departing from Europe. The first half of the 20th century saw bed bug infestations become extremely common in both wealthy and impoverished urban areas in the US. By the 1950s, the pesticide known as DDT nearly eradicated the pests from the country. However, two decades ago the bloodsucking pests reemerged. Today, bed bugs can be acquired in just about any public location, particularly in libraries. In fact, many people throughout the country have become apprehensive about entering libraries, as the pests can easily be transported to people’s homes within infested books. In order to protect patrons from transporting bed bugs into their home, a Hampton library has enacted a policy that bans people who return infested books until they can prove that the pests have been fully eradicated from their home.

Bed bugs have appeared in Hampton’s Lane Memorial Library numerous times, but after infested books were returned to the library two months ago, the Board of Trustees voted in favor of enacting a policy requiring all individuals who return infested books to provide written proof from a pest control professional stating that the source of the infestation has been eradicated. In addition to bed bugs, the library will suspend patrons who return books infested with cockroaches, silverfish, ants and other insect pests that are often found in paper items. The new policy requires library staff to fill out a “pest report form” upon identifying individuals who have returned infested books, or who have transported insect pests into the library by some other means. Patrons who feel as though they are being unjustly targeted by the new policy can apply for an appeal, allowing them to argue their position at a hearing. Officials state that this policy will allow the library to immediately sever ties with insect pest sources, which will make patrons more comfortable about entering the branch. The identity of those who are identified as the source of insect pests will not be released to the public.

Do you think that this new policy will decrease the number of bed bug infestations in the community?