Monday, January 11, 2016

Are There Germs In Library Books?

I came across an article on Bustle's website titled Are There Germs In Library Books? Here's What You're Bringing Home With You by Lily Feinn. In her article, Feinn writes the following:
Worrying about the dangers of library book contamination is nothing new. Over a century ago, a 1911 article titled “The Disinfection of Books”, fanned the flames of hystria. Author L.B. Nice wrote in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, "Books seem well adapted for carrying small-pox, measles, scarlet fever, trachoma, diphtheria, erysipelas, dysentery, typhoid, and tuberculosis. Yet so far as I have been able to find, no satisfactory method for the disinfection of books is being used anywhere in this country. Books are a particular diversion of invalids and convalescents, therefore they are in much danger of becoming infected." Sorry invalids, time to look for a new hobby. Perhaps counting ceiling tiles would be safer?

Nice also warned that people could contract and spread disease through books with the "uncleanly habit of moistening their fingers in their mouths when turning the leaves." To prove the theory, one scientist cut out the dirtiest parts of well-used library books, mixed the paper with a saline solution, centrifuged the liquid, and injected it into guinea pigs. Many of those poor guinea pigs died of strep, tuberculosis, and sepsis.

I'm already a bit of a germophobe and wash my hands a lot anyway, but after reading this article in full... I'm like, ewww! 

The upshot of the article though is "A 1994 study found bacteria on books belonging to libraries and family households alike. However, they were both deemed safe as neither was 'a potential source of transmission.'"


  1. Omg, ew. I never thought about it! Now using hand sanitizer out the wazoo next time I borrow a library book.

    1. Yay, tell me about it!! I have purchased several former library copies of books and audiobooks over the years at library book sales and now I can't help but think about how many germs each book has!!