Full access, without restrooms, will be restored once contaminated areas can be sealed off from public; tentative date is Monday, Jan. 9

City to re-open library on Wednesday, Jan. 4, for picking up materials on hold only

Full access, without restrooms, will be restored once contaminated areas can be sealed off from public; tentative date is Monday, Jan. 9

Based on the recommendations from an environmental remediation contractor and input from state and county health officials, the City of Boulder will begin a gradual re-opening of the Main Library this week.

The building has been closed since Dec. 20 when testing of restroom exhaust vents showed levels well above state thresholds for methamphetamine contamination. The city decided to conduct the tests, voluntarily and out of an abundance of caution, after reports were taken of individuals smoking meth in the library restrooms in November and early December. In two separate incidents, library staff were evaluated and cleared for potential meth exposure after feeling ill.

The initial testing was just of the vents, which were not accessible to the public, but those results led to additional sampling of surfaces in the restrooms as well as other areas of the library. This testing occurred over the past 10 days.

A contractor’s report, delivered to the city late Friday evening, confirmed that the highest contamination levels were limited to public-facing restrooms, with a few discrete areas of surface contamination in heavily used seating areas, specifically the booths and fixed tables on the first floor, along the west wall.

The city is in the process of hiring certified remediation contractors to remove the impacted furniture in the seating areas and then conduct a thorough remediation of the restrooms. This remediation is expected to take several weeks. No public restrooms will be available until the work is completed, new samples have been taken confirming safe access, and the city has received clearance from health officials to re-open these facilities for full use.

“Methamphetamine use has dramatically increased as a challenge over the past few years in communities across the nation including Boulder County. Boulder County Public Health is committed to continued partnership with the City of Boulder and others to identify and implement solutions that both protect the community and provide support to those needing help,” said Lexi Nolen, Acting Director of Boulder County Public Health. “In the meantime, we have reviewed the city’s test results and concur with the remediation plan that has been created.”

County health officials also released a statement about the library situation, providing helpful context about regulations and any potential risks from meth residue. That statement is available here.

City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde expressed appreciation for the guidance the city has received: “We are grateful for the partnership of experts in environmental and public health. Our goal is to ensure community well-being and safety.”

“Based on what we’ve learned in the past couple of weeks and with the remediation plans we’re enacting, I’m confident there is no ongoing health risk,” said Library Director David Farnan. We are eager to welcome community members back to the library as soon as possible.”

Before the library fully opens, contractors will install barriers preventing access to the restrooms. Trained professionals will be able to enter and exit the sealed area to perform the clean-up work safely. It is anticipated this, plus some resampling of the seating area once the furniture has been removed, will occur over the next several business days.

Library staff will begin returning to work on Monday, Jan. 2, to process materials that were returned prior to the library closure and prepare for public admittance.

The first phase of re-opening to the public will start on Wednesday, Jan. 4, during which patrons who have existing or new holds on materials will be given access to pick these up.

Individuals may come to the main entrance at 1001 Arapahoe Ave. between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Jan. 4 and whenever the library is open in the days that follow.

If you have a hold waiting for you, no additional action is needed on your part. Holds that were set to end on Jan. 4 have been extended to Jan. 10. Just bring your library card with you. If you wish to reserve materials as a hold, you may do so on the library’s website.

The city has established a tentative re-opening date of Monday, Jan. 9 for public access to the rest of the building and resumption of programming. The next update on this situation will be released on Friday, Jan. 6, with either confirmation of this date or new information.

No timeline for the completion of the restroom remediation has been set yet.