We Don't Know Who Needs to Hear This, But Please Stop Microwaving Library Books

If you're checking out a new novel or cookbook this summer, don't nuke it.

In the past couple of months, it's probably safe to say that we've all improved our skills with our microwaves—that, or we've just become a lot less selective about what we're willing to cook in one. Although microwave mushroom risotto is surprisingly great, and mug cakes are an unmistakable form of self-care, some librarians have had to ask that we stop quick-cooking our library books.

The Kent District Library in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has apparently received a couple of scorched hardbacks, after some, uh, well-meaning patrons tried to avoid the pandemic by microwaving the books. "Reminder that KDL will quarantine returned materials for 72 hours," the library wrote on Facebook. "The pictures below show what will happen, when you try microwaving a book. The radio frequency tags in all KDL materials have metal in them. They will catch on fire in the microwave."

pressing microwave buttons
Tetra Images/Getty Images

"I don't know if it was something that they saw on the news, that they thought maybe the heat would kill COVID-19," Elizabeth Guarino-Kozlowicz, the regional manager of Kent District Library, told the Detroit Free Press. So keep that in mind if you plan on checking out any new cookbooks this summer, or just opt to go digital instead.

Guarino-Kozlowicz also said that the library was already taking precautions to ensure that its books and other materials were sanitized and safe, including "quarantining" them for 72 hours after they were returned to the library. "All of the items go into a separate space," she said. "We set them aside for three days and then we check them in after that. We don't want them to feel concerned that they need to do anything."

This isn't the first food-related challenge that eternally hard-working librarians have had to contend with lately. In January, the University of Liverpool Library tweeted a picture of a cellophane-wrapped cheese slice that had been found inside a library book. "This is not a bookmark," the library tweeted, and honestly, you can almost hear the heavy sigh that accompanied that sentence.

Alex Widdeson, the associate director for the library, told the BBC that the staffer who found the cheese slice was "so stunned" that she didn't even remember which book it was discovered in. "It's fair to say they were a mix of amused and disgusted," she said. "I'm not sure even the mice would have been interested."

And last fall, a self-described "hipster librarian" posted a picture of a taco—an entire soft taco—that some monster who doesn't deserve books or tacos put inside a hardback that was returned to an Indiana library. "Don’t have a bookmark? Try using a taco," she wrote.

For the record, she was kidding.

So, just to recap: library books don't go in the microwave, and food doesn't go inside library books. Stay safe out there.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles