The Friends of the Lawrence Public Library organization has set up a donation website to help make up for the loss from its fall book sale, which was canceled last week because of a bedbug infestation.
The spring and fall book sales usually raise about $30,000 each and are a big contributor to the nonprofit's roughly $70,000 annual donation to the library. While that's not a huge chunk of the library's $3.4 million annual budget, the money is used for giveaways, summer reading programs and other activities.
Any effects of the monetary loss won't be felt until next year, said library director Brad Allen. "We'll be able to understand better in 2014, but we'll know in advance what the shortfall might be," he said. "We're anticipating it and figuring out ways we can continue to move forward with that hit."
Event organizers elected last week to cancel the fall sale, which was to offer several thousands books at the Douglas County Fairgrounds next Thursday through Sunday, after a donor of fewer than 100 books reported that the books contained bedbugs. The books had already been mixed in the collection, much of which was quarantined.
To retrieve some of the lost revenue, the Friends group has established a donation page on the library website (just click on the bedbugs icon). The campaign has already taken in about $600 in donations, according to Kathleen Morgan, executive director for the Lawrence Public Library Foundation. The Friends group has also sent out in its member newsletter an appeal for donations in lieu of book sale purchases.
But there's a chance some of the books could still be sold. Organizers are exploring ways to salvage some or all of the collection by getting rid of the bedbugs without harming the books.
"If bedbugs have fed on blood, they can live for about a year," said Pete Haley, owner and operator of Lawrence-based Haley Pest Control Inc. "And you don't have a big population of bedbugs anywhere unless they've been feeding." He suggested storing the infested books in an airtight trailer and fumigating with vapor strips, which would kill the bedbugs in about a week or two.