Columbia Public Library reopens after closing for fleas

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COLUMBIA - After three days of closing for pest control treatments, the Columbia Public Library opened its doors to the public Saturday morning.

Library spokesperson, Mitzi St. John, said staff made the call to reopen the building earlier that day.

"The exterminator got here at 6 a.m. to check the premises," St. John said. "Staff was here early, about seven. We had a walk through, we had a discussion and we checked everything. And so this morning we determined that we were going to be able to open."

The library first closed Wednesday to allow pest control workers to kill the fleas. St. John said library staff began hearing complaints about fleas on Tuesday. After they received more complaints on Wednesday, they decided to close the building to the public.

"We have a few people mention it on Tuesday," St. John said. "We went ahead and called the exterminator, and made an appointment for them to come in later. On Wednesday there were more reports, so we moved up the appointment to that day, and closed the library so they could get to work immediately."

St. John said the pest control workers used a chemical agent to kill the fleas. But even though the library was full of gas for three days, it is now completely safe to enter.

"The product they used was made for public spaces, and it is safe to humans after a few hours," St. John said. "The last application of the chemicals was mid-afternoon Friday."

St. John said even though the building had to be closed suddenly, the community was understanding of the needed inconvenience.

"We can get, on average, about 2,000 people through the Columbia Public Library, per day," St. John said. "So it's a very well-used building. Some people were disappointed that they couldn't come in and get their holds. But they were all very understanding about the situation, and were on board with us getting rid of the fleas."

St. John said she appreciated the community's patience during the days of flea treatment. She said library staff wanted the building to reopen as well.

"Each morning we evaluated," St. John said. "After Wednesday we had hoped we could open Thursday, but when we got here we discovered that wasn't possible so we closed again."

St. John said although the extermination crews cleared the building to reopen, library staff will stay on the lookout for the tiny intruders.

"We will continue monitoring the situation," St. John said. "Fleas tend to be a little resilient, but we are hopeful that we have gotten it taken care of."

St. John said library visitors should notify staff immediately if they think they see any more fleas.