BRANDON — The unwelcome appearance of a lowly insect is forcing county officials to close the Brandon library branch for three days.
No, not bookworms. Bed bugs.
The county is bringing in a pest control company to inspect and treat the 25,000-square foot building after library staffers found the bugs in some recently returned books Tuesday morning, county officials said. The branch at 619 Vonderburg Drive is expected to reopen Friday. All scheduled events and programs at the branch have been canceled until it reopens.
The employees were sorting materials in a work room before the library opened and immediately threw away the bug-infested books when they made the discovery, said county spokeswoman Michelle VanDyke.
"Out of an abundance of caution they'll sweep the entire building," VanDyke said.
County officials could not provide the titles of the discarded books.
The pest control company will use heat remediation to treat the building, which is most effective and doesn't require toxic chemicals, said Chely Cantrell, Manager of Library Development. The treatment will cost about $6,000.
The Brandon branch saw 17,298 library visits in January, according to county figures. That's an average of 558 each day.
Residents looking for a library fix elsewhere can locate their nearest branch by visiting the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System's website at hcplc.org/locations.
In general, bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) have been making a comeback in the United States over the past decade, pest specialists say, and libraries throughout the nation have been infested because so many people spend time in these public buildings. After a spate of bug sightings in libraries in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Pinellas Park a few years ago, Pinellas County's libraries established new policies, such as inspecting returned books more thoroughly and bringing in bedbug-sniffing dogs on a quarterly basis to hunt for the insects.
The Hillsborough County news release announcing the Brandon closure also included another helpful reference: The Centers for Disease Control web page on how to prevent and manage bed bugs. Go to cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.