Monday, October 5, 2009

Bed bugs or book bugs?

Gail Lindley, owner of Denver Bookbinding, has printed a provocative and yet thoughtful bookmark which she hands out at book fairs to advertise her company: "Practice Safe Sex, Take a Good Book to Bed with You." This innocent bookmark takes on a horrifyingly Halloween meaning in light of recent library stories in our city. If you drop by her wonderful factory on West 31st and Wyandotte, just east of Tejon, she will happily give you one.

Now I suppose many of you read about this issue in The Denver Post. I hope other biblioholics are as angry and as deeply offended by a hitherto unknown warfare gnawing against the very fabric of our civilization, culture and learning, not forgetting the books involved. Reading on at this point may make one's very flesh crawl. And I suspect when the Olympic Committee which might receive Denver's application for the games soon will be incredulous and furious when they find out. What kind of a city is Denver, anyway? Let's review the case.

There is a Denver Public Central Library Patron who goes above and beyond Ms. Lindley's humorous suggestion about taking books to bed. He actually brought borrowed books to his home which was infested with lots of the species, Cimex lectularius, that's Latin for 'bug and bed.' He shared his bedbug infestation with the city's books and when the books got back to the library, the contagion spread, the wingless cimices lectularii drilled into other texts. The bedbugs even found nesting grounds in the fertile bindings of lots of other books, mostly old and juicy leatherbound tomes.

Are you angry yet? Do you share the pain?

Costs to the library to reclaim damaged books has soared to many thousands of dollars at a time when the city council and mayor are proposing the closing of two libraries in our city. A library official said the person's burrowing, I mean, borrowing priveleges at DPL have been revoked mainly due to health concerns for other patrons. But rumors are crawling at the library that a silk stocking law firm is itching to take on the case. The city attorney's office hopes there will be lots of wiggle room in this case which may have legs.

What punishments should there be for these reckless and incidiously creepy acts of infestation to others? What acts of restitution would fit these gruesome crimes? Sister Mildred Clare, librarian of my high school in North Denver, made students returning books late to her library scrape tossed gum off the sidewalks around the playground and school? What do you think the penalty should be for these acts of urban microbiotic terrorism?

Are you as bugged as I am that we had to read about this in our Denver Post? Surely a citywide email to city employees to spread the word on this health hazard might have been waiting in the wings.

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