Government & Politics

Check out books at this JoCo library? Bag them to guard against bed bugs

The library on Johnson Drive in Shawnee is closed until further notice due to the discovery of bed bugs.

The Shawnee branch library, at 13811 Johnson Drive, will be closed at least until Wednesday so the building can be treated to get rid of the infestation, Johnson County Library Director Sean Casserley said Friday evening.

“The health and safety of our patrons is always our top priority,” the Johnson County library said in an alert posted to its website. “If you have materials from this branch, we recommend sealing them in a plastic bag.”

Continued updates will be posted to the library’s website and Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Casserley said this is the first infestation that the library system has experienced. He told The Star that library staff were trained more than a year ago to be on the lookout for bed bugs in books, and they spotted the pests in a book turned in Thursday.

That book was treated, but then dogs who can detect the pests were brought in to the building to do a more thorough check. Library officials learned at 3:30 p.m. Friday that the pests had not been contained and had spread to furniture in the building. The library closed at 4 p.m.

Casserley said library staff contacted experts at the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension office and were told that bed bugs don’t pose a health risk but are a nuisance that can cause bites or welts. He said there’s a misconception that bed bugs result from dirty conditions or poverty, but in fact they result more from travel. The pests can hitch a ride on luggage.

Casserley said the patron who turned in the book was alerted and told not to return any more books to the library.

The building will be treated to eradicate the infestation, but Casserley said that can’t occur until Monday and won’t be completed at least until Wednesday.

Casserley said the new Monticello branch that opened this summer in western Shawnee has been checked and cleared. All other library buildings and vans will also be checked.

Bed bugs have been discovered in other public buildings in the metro area. They were discovered in March on an upholstered chair in a seating area near restaurants on the mezzanine level of Terminal B at Kansas City International Airport.