The Free Online Dictionary defines “bookworm” as:
1. One who spends much time reading or studying.
2. Any of various insects, especially booklice and silverfish, that infest books and feed on the paste in the bindings.
Libraries with a mission to preserve and lend books to the public need to be vigilant about bookworms and the bookworms who visit the library need to insure that their bookworm habits do not inadvertently infest libraries with bookworms of the insect kind.
Bookworms who like to read in bed, may live in apartments infested by bed bugs that like to feed in bed. A bookworm reading themselves to sleep may stash their book under the pillow, on a night stand or on the floor next to the bed. If the bedroom is infested with bed bugs, the book can provide a perfect harborage for bed bugs. The bindings of hardcover books have a space between the spine and the pages that is perfect for bed bugs to harbor. When the bookworm returns their book to their library, the book may harbor bed bugs that can infest the library or be transported into the homes of other library patrons.
The problem of bedbugs in library books has appeared in numerous locations in many countries. Libraries with bed bug infestations often are forced to close until expensive treatment for bed bugs has been completed. Library staff must be alert to bed bugs in books, especially in areas with high rates of infestation. Many large libraries have policies in place for routine inspection of books for signs of bedbugs.
One incident at the Denver Public Library in 2009 received widespread attention. An elderly patron commonly borrowed rare books and took them home to scan them for the online “Project Gutenberg“. Unfortunately the gentleman lived in a bed bug infested apartment. Many of the rare books he borrowed were returned infested with bed bugs. The Denver Public Library was infested with bed bugs as a result. They canceled the patron’s membership and requested that the books remaining on loan be returned to a secure drop. Instead, the patron returned the books to a public drop and the library was re-infested. The library destroyed $12,000 worth of rare books and paid $6000 in fumigation costs to eliminate their infestation.
The cautionary tale is for bookworms to check your books for bookworms, before the bookworms and bed bugs worm their way into your home. Bedbugger.com has a forum devoted to the topic of bed bugs in library books, used books, DVD and VHS rentals. Several people report heat treating library books in their Packtite. Interestingly, one poster reports requiring students to submit papers electronically rather than hard copies that could harbor bed bugs. e-books, e-readers and e-submissions may have arrived just in time for the modern bed bug era.