Meth contamination forces 2nd Colorado library to close its doors


Health officials say meth residue can be irritating, causing symptoms like itchy throat. Runny nose and bloodshot eyes.

Meth contamination forces 2nd Colorado library to close its doorsENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For the second time in a month, a Colorado library has closed. Its doors to clean up methamphetamine contamination.

Officials in the Denver suburb of Englewood closed the city library Wednesday. Within hours of receiving test results that showed contamination. In the facility’s restrooms exceeded state limits, city spokesman Chris Harguth said.

Other places, such as countertops, also tested positive for low levels of the drug. And would must special cleaning, he said. Larger scale remedial work will include removal of contaminated surfaces. Walls, ducts and exhaust fan equipment.

The city of about 33,000 just south of Denver decided to test for the drug. After officials in the nearby college town of Boulder closed its main library. After finding meth contamination, Harguth said.

It’s just the latest example of the balancing act urban libraries. Have to navigate between keeping their facilities clean. And safe while also being welcoming to all. When overdoses were reported in libraries as the opioid crisis grew across. The United States in the mid-2010s, some libraries were stocked. With the antidote Naloxone. Known by the brand name Narcan.

According to Raymond Garcia, a spokesman for the American Library Association. Library closures due to methamphetamine contamination appear to be limited so far. Which is not known to have occurred elsewhere across the country in recent years. The group declined to comment on whether drug use is increasing in libraries. Citing a lack of up-to-date data.

Health officials say meth residue can be irritating. Causing symptoms like itchy throat, runny nose and bloodshot eyes. But secondary exposure is not believed to cause long-term. Chronic health concerns, Harguth said.

Drug use is not common at the Englewood library, but reports of it have increased in recent months. As cold weather has forced more people to shelter there, with fewer of them using. Library director Christina Underhill said. More broadly, the library has attracted more homeless people since it fully reopened. After closing at the start of the pandemic.

“We’re very convenient,” Underhill said. But “there are individuals who have abused. This space and unfortunately put us in this position.”

Brenda Folsom, who was picking up her grandchildren. From school Thursday near the library in Englewood. Said she has seen drug use in the area increase over the past two years, particularly at her local park. She worries her 3- and 8-year-old grandsons, who go to the library with their father. And other curious children might take needles. And other drug paraphernalia in their bathrooms. “I think if they cleaned their restrooms a little bit more. Or paid attention to the restrooms. And the stuff or the people going in there, they wouldn’t have this problem,” Folsom said. In his view, the library should have better security. And check the facilities more frequently.

Boulder officials suggested that the closure of their city library. Last month was the result of stricter state rules to clean up meth once tests revealed it. They also noted that the standards for how much meth contamination is acceptable. Were developed with an eye toward homes. Where frequent exposure is more likely than public buildings.

Colorado’s rules are “some of the most conservative in the country. Using many precautions to protect infants and children from exposure.” The city said in a Dec. 28 statement.

The Boulder library has since reopened. But its bathrooms remain closed as crews do decontamination work. Including replacing fans and vents, spokeswoman Annie Elliott said. Once this is done, the bathrooms will be locked and anyone who wants to use. Them will have to ask a staff member or security guard for access.

The Englewood Library has made some changes to help the homeless who visit it. According to Underhill, an outreach group comes every Monday. To offer services like identification. Food vouchers and help getting housing.

But some library users said they didn’t feel safe, the city hired security guards last year, he said. It also established a code of conduct aimed at helping librarians to be able to enforce the rules.

According to the library’s website, Englewood recently increased. Funding to add more staff in hopes of curbing drug use.

“The use of libraries has changed,” Underhill said. “More and more people are coming to use it as a refuge area.”

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