by Lisa Iannucci, Senior Assistant, INALJ New Jersey
Be Proactive About Pest Prevention
It’s no secret that pests of all types are an issue in libraries, archives and cultural institutions; cockroaches, ants, termites, bedbugs and assorted rodents can take up residence in the unlikeliest locations. Even the cleanest, most organized establishment can have issues with pest infestation, and these creatures can not only damage collections, but can also raise health concerns, often transmitting infectious agents that exacerbate allergies and cause disease. Here are some tips for staying on top of them:
- If you don’t already have one in place, develop a comprehensive disaster plan that includes pest control and prevention and train all staff on proper procedures. Situations arise quickly and unexpectedly, and everyone needs to know what to do and who’s in charge of what.
- Conduct a facilities and physical plant survey as part of your disaster plan preparation. This way you will be able to take note of potential trouble areas and address them accordingly.
- Regular inspections are an essential ingredient of any pest control plan. Left unnoticed and untreated, bug infestations become entrenched and are far more difficult to eradicate; the sooner you discover a bug problem, the faster it can be dealt with.
- Have all areas where food is present cleaned regularly, and dispose of food waste daily. Many institutions are now permitting food and beverages in common areas, which, while patron-friendly, can be an open invitation to pests. If you can, restrict consumption of food and beverages to staff dining areas only.
- Avoid clutter. As we all are aware, clutter is an open invitation not only for more clutter (!), but for dust, dirt and pests. Again, dispose of waste promptly and regularly, and keep all public, work and storage areas neat and organized.
- Don’t try to handle infestations on your own – call in the professionals. Home-grown remedies can not only be unsafe, but can actually exacerbate the situation. Treatments often require specific, detailed knowledge of the pests in question and/or dangerous chemicals, and it’s not only safer but more cost effective to deal with any problems appropriately the first time so that they don’t recur.
- Finally, if you are new to all this, the Northeast Document Conservation Center and the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts are among the many informational resources available. There are also free templates available to get you started, including the excellentOnline Disaster-Planning Tool for Cultural and Civic Institutions.
The most important thing to remember about pest control is to be proactive; you can’t deal with pests if you don’t know you have them.
Lisa Iannucci has volunteered for INALJ since March 2013, and was recently promoted to Senior Assistant for New Jersey. In addition to her M.L.I.S., Lisa also holds an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction writing. She hopes to be employed in the field of archives/special collections, and volunteers both for her county archives and a local historical society; she is employed at an academic library. Lisa enjoys live music, long walks, and the great outdoors, and presently resides in historic Ocean Grove on the beautiful Jersey Shore.