Penrose Library in downtown Colorado Springs temporarily closed after meth contamination detected

The Penrose Library will be closed for at least the week of Feb. 19. 2023.
Published: Feb. 19, 2023 at 1:23 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 19, 2023 at 1:40 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Effective immediately, the Penrose Library in downtown Colorado Springs is closed for further testing after traces of meth were found inside bathrooms.

The closure also extends to the Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD) mobile library, which is housed at the downtown library, and the bathroom at the East Library.

The library began screening for meth residue after traces of the drug were found in multiple Denver-area libraries.

“Because we’re the second-largest library district in the state, we felt like we had a responsibility to our staff and to our patrons to keep them safe,” said Denise Abbott with PPLD. “We just decided to be proactive and go ahead and do the testing on our own.”

Abbott stressed that physical drugs were not found in any of the libraries.

“The screening that we did was to determine whether there were meth-affected areas in our restrooms, in our libraries. And there were a couple that we found that were meth-affected. But there was actually not evidence of any drugs present in any of our screenings.

“Even in Boulder, nobody found drugs. Not any of the locations found drugs. All they really found was the fact that, ‘Oh, this place was contaminated with meth residue.’ So something had gone on in the libraries.”

The traces found in the East Library and the Special Collections Carnegie Library were at the level where all PPLD needs to do moving forward is an assessment to determine where the contamination exists and whether just a cleaning will suffice, or if more needs to be done, Abbott told 11 News. However, in the Penrose Library, more than one bathroom was found to be meth-affected.

“We’re going to do more extensive testing to determine exactly where the contamination is [at the Penrose Library]. Is it on the walls? Is it on the counters? Is it in the floor area? This next level of testing will determine that and let us know to what extent and to what levels we have meth contamination. That will help us determine what we need to do going forward.”

The Penrose Library will be closed for at least a week. The other libraries will remain open, including the East Library.

The library district released the following statement Saturday:

On Wed., Feb. 8, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) started working with state certified vendor KEMWest Inc. to conduct initial screenings for methamphetamine contamination of the restrooms in the three most highly trafficked libraries throughout the District – East Library, Library 21c, Penrose Library (including the Special Collections Carnegie Library). The results of those screenings were presented to PPLD on Friday evening, Feb. 17.

Samples taken from East Library and the Special Collections Carnegie Library showed that one restroom in each location contained contamination at levels measuring above the minimum limit that the state has set for residential buildings of 0.25 micrograms per 100 centimeters, but below the maximum threshold of 0.5 micrograms per 100 centimeters. Results at this level trigger the need to proceed to the next level of testing, the preliminary assessment level. This level of tests narrows the results to the specific locations within the restroom that have been affected and determines the extent to which they have been affected. While further examination of these specific restrooms is being conducted, they will be closed for use starting Sat., Feb. 18.

Screening samples of several restrooms in Penrose Library showed that they had been contaminated at levels above 0.5 micrograms per 100 centimeters, prompting the need for extensive preliminary assessment level testing for those restrooms and a few of the immediately adjacent areas. KEMWest Inc. recommended that PPLD close Penrose Library and the Mobile Library Services, which is housed at this location, while these tests are taking place. El Paso County Public Health supports the consultant’s recommendation. Penrose Library is likely to remain closed through the coming week, beginning Sat., Feb. 18.

When the results of preliminary assessment level of tests become available, they will be shared.

All other PPLD locations remain open.

As always, the safety and well-being of our staff and patrons are PPLD’s top priority. The Library will continue to work closely with KEMWest Inc. and El Paso County Public Health on this matter as we navigate our next steps.