(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Penrose Library will temporarily be closed after a screening showed high levels of methamphetamine contamination in several of their restrooms.
The Penrose Library is only the latest victim, now the fifth library in the state, to shut its doors due to methamphetamine contamination. The move to screen was only a precautionary measure, officials saying they never thought people would be bringing drugs into their bathrooms.
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, The Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) conducted initial screenings of the restrooms in their top three libraries, that see the most foot traffic throughout the District: East Library, Library 21c. and Penrose Library.
The results of the screening released on Friday, Feb. 17, showed several restrooms at Penrose Library had been contaminated with high levels of meth residue, in accordance with state thresholds. But, PPLD officials want to clarify, that this is not something that happened overnight.
“This residue, what they found during that preliminary screening, is accumulative. It did not happen yesterday…It’s years of cumulative…action,” said Teona Shainidze Krebs, Interim Chief Librarian & CEO of PPLD.
In Colorado, the maximum amount for a residential building to be considered contaminated is 0.5 micrograms per 100 centimeters. Four out of five public restrooms in Penrose Library were above this threshold, according to PPLD. The fifth restroom was under the maximum, but still at a level that needed to be tested.
A preliminary assessment will now be conducted at the Penrose Library, which involves extensive testing of the bathrooms and surrounding areas. The library will be closed for this testing for the following week, starting on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The results of these tests will determine how PPLD will proceed.
“We do not have a plan for what we’re going to do, because again, it depends on the test results….We will heavily rely on the guidance of our experts in this area,” said Krebs.
The other two libraries that were screened remain open. The restrooms at Library 21c were clean. One restroom at the East Library reported meth contamination levels above the state’s minimum limit for residential buildings of 0.24 micrograms per 100 centimeters. That restroom will also be closed for the following week, but the rest of East Library will remain open.
A poster displaying the PPLD code of conduct is hung up at the entrance of the Penrose Library, showing a list of do’s and don’ts. This includes no nicotine use, drinks must be covered, no open carry of weapons, etc. Looking at the poster now, library officials said they didn’t even think to put ‘no drugs’ on the list, because something like this is just unimaginable.
“A library to me, as someone who is an immigrant to this country, it’s a safe place for everyone. It’s a space where anyone can come…to access information,” said Krebs.
This mission to educate and serve the community has not changed. PPLD wants people to know that safety in their libraries is their main priority.
“We are still a safe place. That’s why we have taken those steps [the initial precautionary screenings] to ensure that everyone in our community feels safe to continue using our services,” said Krebs.
For these assessments and screenings, PPLD is working closely with state-certified vendor KEMWest Inc. Officials with PPLD said they are looking to install environmental sensors in the bathrooms as a preventative measure for the future.
The results of the preliminary assessment tests will be shared when they become available, according to PPLD, and when Penrose Library is expected to open will be based on those results.
FOX21 will continue to update this story as information becomes available to us.