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Can You Get Bed Bugs From The Library?

Are you an avid reader who loves borrowing books from the library? Or perhaps you work in a library and handle books daily? 

If so, you may have wondered about the possibility of encountering bed bugs from these borrowed or handled materials.

As unsettling as it may seem, bed bugs can indeed be found in libraries. In this blog post, we’ll address the common concern of whether you can get bed bugs from the library and provide helpful tips for preventing and dealing with them.

Can You Get Bed Bugs From The Library?

Can You Get Bed Bugs From The Library?

Bed bugs, those tiny parasites, are known for their resilience and ability to hitch a ride to new environments, including, potentially, your local library.

As a patron, you might wonder if borrowing books could introduce these pests into your home.

  • Libraries: While libraries make significant efforts to manage cleanliness, bed bugs can occasionally be found in some of their items. These insects may find their way into the library in patrons’ belongings or become an issue if an infestation arises nearby.
  • Transmission: If bed bugs are present, they may tuck away within the pages or the spine of hardcover books. Since libraries are public spaces where items are frequently circulated, the possibility, while low, does exist.
  • Infestation: A substantial infestation at a library is rare due to proactive measures taken by these institutions. They often work with pest control professionals and take quick action if bed bugs are detected.

How You Can Protect Your Home:

  • Inspect Before Borrowing: Give the books a quick check for any signs of bugs or small stains, particularly along the spine, before taking them out of the library.
  • Isolate Library Books: Consider keeping library materials separate from your home’s main reading areas as an extra precaution.
  • Prompt Action: Should you find any suspicious pests on library materials, notify the library immediately; they will have protocols in place to handle such incidents.

Are Bed Bugs Common in Libraries?

Are Bed Bugs Common in Libraries?

When you think of libraries, you might conjure images of quiet rows of books, the faint smell of paper, and a sense of intellectual sanctuary.

Bed bugs, however, are not a part of this peaceful picture, yet these tiny, hardy pests can sometimes find their way into public libraries.

Here’s what you should know about bed bugs in the library setting:


  • While not rampant, bed bugs in libraries can occur. Their presence is usually tied to the infestation issues in the community the library serves.
  • It’s important to note that bed bug infestations are not a reflection of a library’s cleanliness.

How They Spread to Libraries:

  • Bed bugs primarily hitch a ride on library books and personal belongings carried in and out of library buildings.

Library Reaction and Prevention:

  • Libraries are proactive. Once detected, measures are taken to address the issue. Public libraries often implement protocols, such as quarantining and inspecting returned books.
  • Regular training sessions might be held for staff to identify and manage potential infestations.

Your Role:

  • You can be vigilant. Inspect library books and be cautious when placing borrowed items on or near bedding at home.
  • If you notice a problem, inform library staff promptly to prevent an infestation from spreading.

In short, bed bugs are occasional unwelcome visitors in public libraries, but they aren’t typically waiting behind every book spine.

If your community experiences a bed bug problem, it’s worth being attentive, but rest assured that libraries are doing their part to keep both the books and your reading experience pest-free.

How To Tell If There Are Bed Bugs In A Book?

How To Tell If There Are Bed Bugs In A Book?

If you suspect that your library books might be hiding bed bugs, there are a few key signs to look for to confirm your suspicions.

Firstly, check the spine of the book, as bed bugs often hide in the tight spaces. Lift the cover and inspect along the binding—these pests appreciate the security of such nooks.

Keep an eye out for tiny stains; these spots can be brown or reddish and might look like small pen dots.

Such marks are typically fecal matter bed bugs leave behind. Similarly, look for tiny, pale eggs or the shed skins of growing bed bugs nestled in crevices.

To inspect your books:

  • Take them off the shelf.
  • Place them on a clean, flat surface.
  • Use a flashlight to carefully examine each part of the book.

Examine carefully:

  • Spine: A preferred hideout for bed bugs.
  • Pages: Bed bugs can be caught hiding between pages.
  • Covers: Check both the inside and outside covers.

If live bed bugs are present, you might see them moving subtly along these areas. They’re about the size of an apple seed and sometimes can be spotted when they scurry away from the light.

If you discover what you suspect are bed bugs, enclose the book in a plastic bag immediately and consult with a pest professional or your librarian for advice on how to proceed safely.

How Long Can a Bed Bug Live in A Book?

How Long Can a Bed Bug Live in A Book?

When you check out a book from the library, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’re bringing home uninvited guests like bed bugs.

These tiny insects can indeed survive in various environments, including inside your favorite novels. Understanding their longevity in such conditions is key to preventing an infestation.

Temperature’s Role: Bed bugs are adaptable creatures with a high survival rate in typical indoor conditions. In an environment around 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit), these pests can stay alive for two to three months without feeding.

Hardcover vs. Paperback Books:

  • Hardcover Books: They provide an ideal retreat with their sturdy spines and gap between the binding and pages. Bed bugs find this a perfect hiding spot, making hardcover books a more likely residence than their paperback counterparts.
  • Paperback Books: These lighter books offer less shelter for bed bugs to hide and go dormant, making them a less favorable home for these pests.

Survival in Unfavorable Conditions: If the temperatures are cooler or if the bed bugs are unable to find a host to feed from, they can enter a dormant state. This state can potentially lengthen their survival time even without sustenance. However, the likelihood of bed bugs residing and remaining alive in your library books for extended periods is relatively rare, especially if you keep your books and living spaces clean and well-maintained.

With regularly inspecting your borrowed books and your bookshelves, you can reduce the chances of bed bug issues significantly.

If you suspect that bed bugs have moved into your literary collection, consider safely heating the books to eradicate these insects without damaging the pages.

How To Make Sure Used Books Don't Have Bed Bugs?

How To Make Sure Used Books Don’t Have Bed Bugs?

When bringing used books into your home, especially from the library, it’s essential to prevent bed bug infestations. Here’s how you can ensure your books are pest-free in a friendly and easy way:

  • Quarantine the Books: As soon as you get home, isolate your used books. Place them in a separate area away from your bedroom or living spaces to avoid potential spread.
  • Bagging: Seal each book inside a clear Ziploc bag. This step will contain any bugs that may be lurking within the pages or spine of the book.
  • Visual Inspection: Before any treatment, examine the book carefully. Look along the spine and page edges for any signs of bed bugs or their small, white eggs.
  • Freezing: If you’ve spotted evidence of bed bugs, place the sealed books in the freezer. Keep them there for at least 4 days to ensure any bed bugs are killed. Freezers should be set to 0°F or colder.
  • Heat Treatment: Alternatively, you can use a portable heating unit like a Packtite. Heat the books to at least 120°F for a minimum of one hour to kill any bed bugs.
  • Diatomaceous Earth: While not suitable for direct application on books, diatomaceous earth can be used in the quarantine area to kill any escaping bed bugs.

Can You Get Bed Bugs From The Library?

Tips On Preventing Bed Bugs Living In Your Books

When it comes to keeping your cherished book collection safe from bed bugs, especially those that might hitch a ride from the library, prevention is key. Here’s how to safeguard your books:

  • Inspect Carefully: Whenever you bring home a new or borrowed book, inspect it thoroughly for signs of bed bugs, such as small dark spots or insect corpses in the spine or between pages.
  • Isolate Suspicious Items: If you suspect a book might be infested, isolate it immediately in a sealed plastic bag to prevent any potential spread.
  • Use Heat: Bed bugs are susceptible to high temperatures. Placing books in a tightly closed black plastic bag and leaving them out in the sun can help eliminate the pests, but be cautious as this can potentially cause water damage from condensation.
  • Keep Books Packed Neatly: Store books on shelves in a clean, organized manner. Packed books leave less space for bed bugs to hide and make it easier to identify an infestation.
  • Regular Cleaning: Vacuum your bookshelves regularly to remove any potential bed bugs or eggs before an infestation can establish.
  • Entomology Experts: In severe cases, it might be time to consult an exterminator or entomologist who can use their expertise to identify and treat bed bug damage with pesticides, if necessary.
  • Detection Dogs: Consider hiring a bedbug-sniffing dog, which can be particularly effective in detecting these pests in large collections or hard-to-reach places.


Although it is a rare occurrence, bed bugs can be found in libraries. These pests can hitchhike on library books or personal belongings, making their way into your home.

If you suspect that you may have brought bed bugs home from the library, quickly take steps to contain and eradicate the infestation before it spreads.

Remember that vigilance is key. Regularly checking for signs of these pests on your library books and keeping your bookshelves clean are proactive measures to protect your literary treasures and keep bed bugs at bay.