AUGUSTA — The discovery of one bedbug shut down Lithgow Public Library all day Wednesday.

Augusta City Manager William Bridgeo said a bedbug-sniffing dog indicated the presence of a bedbug by sitting down in front of a stack of large-print books directly across from the circulation desk.

“The problem is that if it was in a room, they could shut the door and then deal with it,” he said, but the central location forced the closure of the building.

Bridgeo said the area was sprayed and the library will be open as usual Thursday with one small area cordoned off.

“In all likelihood, somebody returned a book and it had a bedbug in it,” Bridgeo said. “A couple months ago one was found in a DVD case that had been returned, and a couple months earlier there was a hit on furniture.”

The city has a contract with Merrills Detector Dog Services, of Readfield, for monthly sweeps by specially trained dogs of three buildings — City Center, the Buker Community Center and Lithgow Public Library — to search for signs of bedbugs, which have been a pest for the city in recent years. The blood-sucking bugs usually come out at night or in dark areas, and adults are brown and about one-quarter of an inch long.

“By virtue of diligently monitoring for it, we’ve been able to prevent any serious problems,” Bridgeo said Wednesday. “We consider it to be money very well spent.”

The city pays $125 monthly and more if treatments have to be applied.

Betsy Pohl, of the library director, said the Lithgow staff didn’t initially know the full extent of the problem.

“It was one very small area and we saw no bug, but the dog indicated there was an issue there, so we contacted the pest control person to come in to treat it,” Pohl said. “We decided to keep the library closed while the spray was drying, since it’s in the heart of the library, right across from the circulation desk.”

During the day, a sign at the library’s entrance and a post on its Facebook page informed visitors it was closed because of “a facility issue” and apologized “for the inconvenience.”

The library, which initially opened in 1896, underwent a $11 million renovation and expansion project and reopened at its 45 Winthrop St. location in August 2016.

Pohl said she wished more institutions would take the same approach as the city of Augusta did to the bedbug situation and she was “proud of the city for being so proactive.”

“It’s a commitment to staying on top of this problem, which is not limited to libraries,” she said. “It’s a problem in five-star hotels, and in residences. They’re bugs — they’re opportunistic. I’m pleased we have this protocol.”

Staff writer Charles Eichacker contributed to this report.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.