Bed Bugs Hitch Ride On Books, Prompt Library Fumigation

Rare Book Lover Banned From Library

Who knew bed bugs could be book worms?

The Denver Public Library had to quarantine and fumigate four areas at the main branch in just the past three weeks because of bed bugs. The tiny insect is being spread by a customer trying to preserve rare books, but ironically it's because of his actions that the books now have to be destroyed.

"Some of the bed bugs fell out of those materials that had been returned," said Denver Public Library spokeswoman Celeste Jackson.

The infected books came from 69-year-old Denver resident Roger Goffeney. He checks out historic books, some 200 years old, and helps archive them online in an effort called the Gutenberg Project.

When he brought a few of the rare books back, bed bugs from his downtown apartment hitched a ride. Goffeney said the landlord is to blame. Goffney lives at Cathedral Plaza, which is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver.

"We've always had some kind of insect infestation, but it's never been to this degree," Goffeney said of the building where he lives.

Still, Goffeney said he didn't think it was a big deal.

"I thought that they could easily be cleaned if they had discovered that to be the problem," Goffeney said.

The library said the items with bedbugs were immediately quarantined and were not released into circulation, so it didn't affect the public.

The library banned Goffeney three weeks ago and asked him to return the rest of the books to a secure drop.

Instead, the library said Goffeney returned the books a week later to the main book drop and reinfected the library.

The library said it had to destroy 31 books that Goffeney checked out. Now it wants him to pay as much as $12,000 for the rare books and $6,000 for fumigation costs.

"I have no intention of paying a dime," the retired minister said.

"It's disappointing that he would do that to his neighbors. It's disappointing that he would do this to the community," Jackson said.

Librarians said it could cost as much as $12,000 to replace the rare books they've had to destroy.

Goffeney said he's considering filing a lawsuit to get his library privileges back.

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