Pueblo library closes to clean meth residue in restrooms

Leftover meth usage can be seen as a film on countertops or floors.
KKTV 11 News at 4 (Recurring)
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 8:09 AM MST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:07 AM MST
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PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - A branch of the Pueblo City-County Library District (PCCLD) will close for a week to handle meth residue detected in the public restrooms.

The Barkman Branch Library, located on the city’s northeast side, will close Monday, Feb. 27, and remain closed for the rest of the week. Library officials said they conducted initial screenings at the branch late last month, and the results of those screenings showed the presence of meth residue samples above the .10 micrograms per the 100-centimeter standard set by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Library officials said immediate action was taken when these results became known to ensure the safety and well-being of patrons and their staff. While the levels were low, officials wanted to proceed with extra precautions.

“Basically, that shows there was a small trace of this,” Nick Potter, Director of Community Relations & Development, said. “It was nothing that was hugely major. We are basing it not on a huge library facility. We are basing it off of an individual residential home.”

Excess meth usage can be seen as a film on countertops or floors.

Barkman Library said they have seen an uptick in meth usage here.

“It’s definitely increased,” Potter said. “And that’s why we are doing the closure. So, the increase in drug use inside of this facility is why we are doing this. Unfortunately abusing public facilities is not a new thing.”

A library spokesperson described the library as being the heart of the community. Two senior living centers and one transitional housing facility are just across the street from it.

A week of being closed will affect the residents who depend on the WiFi, books, and restrooms.

“We know that libraries are refuges for the community. They are safe places for our community,” Potter said. “We are taking a proactive approach and really getting in front of it before it’s a larger issue.”

To combat the larger issue, library officials have discussed installing sensors.

The Pikes Peak Library in Colorado Springs had its own meth contamination. They now plan to install sensors to pick up changes in the air. Barkman Library is discussing this option as well.

Another way Barkman is looking to solve the epidemic is to lock the restrooms and have visitors request access.

“Unfortunately, we are going to have to monitor restroom use kind of to an end degree in the situation,” Potter said. “So, what we will be doing is having locked facilities and they will have to ask permission to use the restroom. We also will be getting identification information, whether that’s a library card or another form of ID, to know who is using the restroom so if there is a bad actor, we can issue a suspension for that person.”

Library representatives said there is no indication that individuals who have been in the library and its restrooms in recent weeks face significant health risks.

All other PCCLD locations are unaffected by this closure. PCCLD officials told 11 News the Barkman Branch Library will remain open Friday and Saturday to allow patrons to pick up any library items.