We share in our community's frustration and believe that any illegal activity in a public space is completely unacceptable.

We share in our community's frustration and believe that any illegal activity in a public space is completely unacceptable.

Meth continues to be the fastest growing drug and epidemic nationwide. Over the past four weeks, we have experienced a troubling number of suspected reports of drug use in the bathrooms at our Main Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave. We also had two instances where a few employees reported mild symptoms that could potentially be linked to drug exposure. The employees were evaluated and cleared by medical staff.

Within days of these reports, library staff coordinated with city facilities staff to initiate new cleaning protocols that include closing restrooms for at least an hour whenever drug use is suspected so extensive surface cleaning can occur. The city also took the extra step of checking the adequacy of the exhaust vents in these enclosed spaces. This included the proactive measure to hire a contractor to conduct testing of the air ducts.

The test results came back Monday and showed that residue in the exhaust ducts of most of the restrooms had methamphetamine readings that were above the allowable threshold, requiring remediation. City staff consulted with colleagues at Boulder County Public Health, and a decision was made to close the library out of an abundance of caution and to allow for additional environmental testing.

This additional testing is being conducted to determine if there is meth residue on surfaces in and outside of the restrooms. Test samples were collected yesterday in areas, such as sinks and counters, where the contamination could have spread most easily. A lab is expediting the testing, and we expect to have the results from this second round of tests within a few days. Earlier today, we collected additional samples in other areas in the library. Those results should be available early next week.

At this time, there is no known risk to individuals who were in the library prior to its closure on Monday. Health officials tell us that anyone who might have been in contact with unsafe levels from surface exposure would likely have experienced symptoms immediately after the exposure. If anyone has concerns and symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, headaches or confusion, we advise them to contact their healthcare provider.

The goal of this testing is to determine a remediation plan. It is possible that portions of the library could be re-opened in phases, but we do not expect to have additional information about that until Monday, at the earliest. In the meantime, the Main Library will remain closed.

As we consider re-opening, we agree with many of you who have encouraged us to address the underlying issue. The following questions are being evaluated carefully by the city:

  • What can be done to prevent drug use in the library?

  • What level of restroom services should be provided?

  • What more can we do to ensure private spaces remain private for their intended purposes and not be used for illegal activity?

  • What additional security measures can be implemented?

The library’s security protocol includes suspending individuals for conduct that violates library rules. Suspected drug use results in a 364-day suspension from all library facilities. Suspected crimes involving known individuals inside the library are reported to Boulder police.

To be completely transparent, we do not have a perfect solution that will prevent something like this from happening again but that is our goal.

I know that much of what I have just said may not resolve your concerns. Please know we are working diligently to address this issue and are committed to being transparent about our plan moving forward.


David Farnan
Library Director
City of Boulder