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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Barkman Library recently closed over meth contamination

Barkman+Library+was+cleaned+and+opened+to+the+public+after+the+meth+residue+cleanup.+Photo+by+Madison+Lira.
Barkman Library was cleaned and opened to the public after the meth residue cleanup. Photo by Madison Lira.

By Cidonia Ponce & Madison Lira

The Barkman Library branch of the Pueblo City-County Library District recently closed on Feb. 24 due to methamphetamine contamination. Barkman is one of the latest libraries closed across Colo. due to unsafe levels of methamphetamine residue. The library tested the levels of meth residue within the bathrooms after a recent uptick in drug usage. 

The library worked closely with the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE) to address the contamination and clean up the bathrooms and vents from the residue. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), there are no methamphetamine regulations that apply to commercial buildings, only residential areas. 

Chad Wolgram of PPDPHE discussed the levels at which residential areas are tested for residue, “When they do the preliminary assessment of a property, they take a couple of samples, and if the levels are above 0.2 micrograms per 100 cm/2, then that area of the building as long as it’s a confined room can be deemed meth infected.” 

Wolgram also provided what the levels of meth residue were at Barkman. “The Men’s restroom was 0.14 micrograms, the women’s restroom 0.53 micrograms, and the heating vents were 1.9 micrograms per 100cm/2.”

As mentioned, Barkman wasn’t the only library shut down over meth residue contamination. One library in Englewood, Colo., had also been shut down back in Jan. of this year. The Director of Parks, Recreation, Library & Golf, Christina Underhill, discussed similar troubles all libraries across the state, including Barkman, have faced when shutting down the library. 

“The biggest challenges were a change in how we offered our library services while the library was closed. We had all of our staff start to move our programs to different locations so we can carry on with those programs,” Underhill stated. 

Underhill also shared similar sentiments when discussing the cleaning processes that come with removing the meth residue, which presents its challenges. 

“Through that process, the cleaning contractor used hot steam and a commercial grade dish soap to clean everything. After that, the library floors, library materials,” she said. 

Rounding back to Barkman, the Director of Community Relations and Development of the Pueblo City-County Library District, Nick Potter, discussed the precautionary measures that will be happening at that specific branch from now on.

“They will be operating under a little bit more of a restrictive piece for the bathrooms. So, what we’re going to be doing is locking the bathrooms; they have to request access to the bathrooms. Then if they’re going to use the restrooms, they also need to provide a piece of identification just so that we know who’s coming in and out of those restrooms. If there is a bad actor, we can identify who that is.” said Potter.

Other libraries within Pueblo limits decide only to do testing when and if there are increased drug usage reports within the facilities. Potter discussed that they’re only limiting testing through the data they receive from the libraries that report more incidences of drug usage. Since the libraries are publicly funded, it’s hard to test all the libraries unnecessarily unless there is probable cause and data to back up the reasoning in which to test for methamphetamine exposure. 

Potter also further explained how the houseless community in Pueblo, specifically around Barkman, made it more susceptible to contamination. 

“We’re getting folks coming up from the Fountain Creek that are experiencing homelessness; there are a few transitional housing areas around us. With Barkman being connected to a lot of displaced or unhoused folks that are maybe dealing with some substance issues, it’s really more of a location thing. It’s not really that facility; it’s just that neighborhood is experiencing a higher level of unhoused folks and drug use,” said Potter. 

Some directors, including Potter, have expressed concerns that this could negatively impact the houseless communities surrounding the libraries that have closed due to contamination. With some individuals within the houseless community abusing drugs and can only turn to public facilities for basic needs (including libraries), the directors expressed fears of how the public would react towards them. 

Barkman has reopened to its patrons after a week of cleaning and will have the new precautionary procedures set for the bathrooms and a security guard in place to help prevent another contamination.

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