Bookworms at the Library

Book published in 1825 showing bookworm damage

Donated book published in 1825 showing bookworm damage

Many people are not aware that bookworms really do exist — and can do a great deal of damage to library books.

The GFU Library was contacted recently by the Friends Yearly Meeting in Hawaii. (Many people are not aware that Hawaiian Quakers exist either, but that’s another matter).  They had a collection of old books that they wished to donate to us, as the high humidity there is detrimental to the fragile pages and covers.

We gratefully received the books, and evaluated them.  Upon inspection, a few showed telltale signs of bookworms.

Bookworms, which are actually beetle larvae, can do great damage to books.  They consume the pages and the glue in the binding, quickly rendering some valuable older books essentially worthless.

Chemicals discouraging bookworms became standard in book manufacturing in the early 1900’s, but older books are still susceptible.

So what did we do with the donations from our friends in Hawaii?  Library staff froze the books for one week in order to kill any larvae.  Books with minimal damage were processed as usual.  Those with significant damage, such as the one pictured, had to be discarded.

May your own books be intellectually stimulating, personally enriching — and bookworm-free!


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