A spokesman for the American Library Association, Raymond Garcia, said that he did not know of any other recent examples of a library being closed because of drug use.
Libraries have temporarily shuttered because of severe weather and because of violent threats. In September, public libraries in Denver, Fort Worth, Nashville, Salt Lake City and the entire state of Hawaii closed temporarily because of bomb threats. Librarians have also reported an increase in disruptions related to the spike in book bans in the past two years and protests against drag queen story hours.
Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, the president of the American Library Association, said in an email that libraries are a vital resource for communities and are often the first point of contact for people in need, including those looking for information about housing, jobs and food assistance.
“These essential roles we played out in the community, in addition to the many lessons we learned in creating virtual spaces and offering virtual services and resources during the height of the pandemic, are essential stopgaps when library buildings must temporarily close,” Ms. Pelayo-Lozada said.
Doug Baruchin, the owner of Island Trauma Services, a New York company that cleans up crime scenes, biohazards and drug contamination, said that, for drug cleanup, his company is most often called to hotels or motels where syringes or white powder has been found. Meth crystals, he said, can contaminate surfaces and the air.
“They are breaking this stuff up and smoking it, so, one, it’s going to be on surfaces where they are breaking it up,” Mr. Baruchin said. “Two, they are cooking it, so it’s going into the air, and that can adhere to surfaces, softgoods. It gets into the HVAC system.”
The chemicals used to make drugs can be deadly when mixed with traditional cleaning products. Mr. Baruchin said technicians dressed in protective equipment used a military-grade decontaminant on the affected area while operating under a straightforward principle: “Just treat everything like it’s going to kill you, and protect yourself.”