Bed bugs found, treated at library
CHESTERTOWN — This morning, before schools and most businesses in the county open, the Kent County Public Library’s main branch in the 400-block of High Street will receive an additional treatment for a bed bug infestation.
Employees of Western Pest Control will be on-site at 7 a.m. Their work should not interfere with operation of the library, Director Jackie Adams said Wednesday during an interview in her office.
She said the library will open at its customary time, 9 a.m., and programming will continue as scheduled.
Adams said she does not foresee any disruption in early voting, which gets underway 10 a.m. today at the library.
The Chestertown branch of the library is the only early voting center in Kent County. Voting will be conducted there from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, Oct. 25 to Nov. 1.
The pest control treatment that the library is receiving today is both precautionary and preventative, Adams said, after an infestation of bed bugs was confirmed less than a month ago.
“For all intents and purposes, we are bed bug free,” Adams said yesterday. “We’re going above and beyond because we understand the public’s concern and because we want the library to be a safe, open and welcoming building.”
Roughly three weeks ago, a patron reported to library staff that she had been bitten by a bed bug, according to the timeline provided by Adams.
Adams said library staff immediately reported the incident to county officials.
Bob Merritt, building maintenance supervisor, and staff responded to the library that night. They inspected upholstered chairs and located the infestation.
The chairs were removed immediately.
The affected area was “fogged” and the entire li- brary was sprayed, Adams said.
She said the library reopened at noon the following day.
“To be very proactive,” Adams contacted the county’s pest control vendor, New Jersey-based Western Pest Services, and arranged for a canine inspection, which was done Monday, Oct. 22.
In explaining the gap between the reported incident and bringing in what she called “sniffer dogs,” Adams said the protocol required that the area be chemical free for three weeks prior to the canine inspection.
Adams said the dogs gave positive alerts to two areas — shelves in one of the library stacks and a piece of furniture.
While the pest management company technician did not see any signs of bed bugs during his visual inspection Monday, the suspect shelving and furniture were removed from the library, put in plastic bags and isolated for treatment, Adams said.
“We proactively closed the library for the day while we determined a course of action,” she wrote in an email.
The League of Women Voters-sponsored forum for Kent County Board of Education candidates was held as scheduled Monday.
Adams forwarded an email she received from Western Pest Services regarding the agreed-upon treatment for this morning. It reads in part, “Western Pest’s technician will perform the treatment of the crack and crevice and shelves in the early morning hours (before the opening). On the same visit, the technician will treat isolated items. In 2 weeks, we will come back and release those items.”
Moving forward, Adams said treatment for bed bugs will become part of the pest control contract for the library. Also, any furniture purchased for the library will not be upholstered.
Bed bugs are not often a topic of so-called polite conversation because of the erroneous stigma of filth and poverty that persists.
“There is a taboo,” Adams said, “but some of the finest hotels in New York City have reported bed bugs. ... It happens all the time.”
Closer to home, the Cambridge branch of the Dorchester County Public Library reopened Oct. 15 after the building was heat treated for an infestation.
Adams said library directors on the Eastern Shore have a heightened awareness now and are sharing information. “We’re all on top of it,” she said.
This is the first incidence of a bed bug infestation in Adams’ seven-plus years as Kent library director. While it is not known how the wingless pests were transmitted to the library, Adams said there has been no evidence of bed bugs in the spine of library books here.
The Chestertown branch of the Kent County Public Library, in the 400-block of High Street, has been treated for an infestation of bed bugs.