A Second Colorado Library Closes Because of Meth Contamination

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“Since Covid, the face of libraries have changed,” Marie Hotta, the chair of the Englewood Public Library board, said. “Libraries are not just a place to check out books and do research anymore.” The library, which is next to a light rail stop, has confronted numerous safety issues over the years, she said, placing staff in the difficult position of balancing the needs of everyone in the community.

“I am on the side of helping people,” Ms. Hotta said. “That said, families need to feel safe.” She said she was glad that the library’s staff and directors had taken the initiative to test the building.

The American Library Association said in a statement on Monday that, at this time, incidents involving methamphetamine contamination in library buildings appeared to be limited to Colorado. “We are unaware of this issue occurring anywhere else in the country, currently or in recent years,” it said.

The main library in Boulder reopened last week after extensive cleaning of the floors, walls and heating and ventilation systems, though the public restrooms were still being cleaned and remained unavailable. The library said that it had also removed some seating, public computers and laptops.

Deaths from drug overdoses rose to record-breaking levels in 2021, nearing 108,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A significant share of those deaths resulted from overdoses involving methamphetamine, a highly addictive synthetic stimulant, and fentanyl, a class of potent synthetic opioids that are sometimes mixed with other drugs.

The number of deaths associated with stimulants like meth, which has grown cheaper and more lethal, reached about 33,000 in 2021.

State and local governments have different standards for determining what level of meth contamination is safe for the public. But the thresholds for remediation set in Colorado are “some of the most conservative in the nation,” according to the city of Boulder.

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