Penrose Library in Colorado Springs to close for 8 weeks for security, safety updates

Abigail Beckman/KRCC News
During the eight-week closure of the Penrose Library, staff will begin shortening and rearranging bookshelves throughout the building. Other planned changes include installing fencing under stairwells and around the property’s perimeter and moving staff desks to more strategic locations throughout the building.

Starting Feb. 1, the Penrose Library in downtown Colorado Springs will be closed for eight weeks for security and safety updates.

During the closure, library staff will begin shortening and rearranging bookshelves throughout the building to increase visibility. 

Michael Brantner, chief safety, community resources, and security officer for the library district, said the shelving changes are the first step in a yearlong process of planned updates.

"It's going to make it feel like there's much more light in the building, and we're going to be able to see across the entire facility from desk to desk, which will provide a safer environment for patrons and staff," he said.

Brantner said the shelving project will cost about $94,000. Costs for other changes are not yet available.

Later in the year, work will begin to create short-term storage areas for personal items, remodel the computer lab, and install fencing under stairwells and around the property’s perimeter. They will also place boulders in strategic locations outside to help prevent vehicles from the busy nearby intersection from hitting the building - intentionally or accidentally. 

The branch will be open during the remaining projects, although some sections of the library may close periodically.

Brantner said that while many unhoused people spend time at the Penrose Library, the changes were brought about by concerns shared by staff and community members, rather than a specific incident or demographic.

"We're not necessarily focusing on individuals who are experiencing homelessness, we're making sure that the location is as safe as we can possibly make it for everyone that utilizes the facility," he said. 

Brantner said small security investments have been made in the building over the years at a smaller scale. Security officers currently patrol the facility during operating hours. There's also a camera system. They're also adding panic alarms to some areas and upgrading doors to improve locking capabilities.

"The Penrose Library was built in the 1960s and we want to make sure we're providing as much of that upgraded new technology to hardware and systems that we possibly can to make it as effective as possible," he said.

Last year, the Penrose Library was closed for just over a week after contamination from methamphetamine was discovered in the restrooms and the special collections section in the basement. One restroom in the East Library, on the northeast side of Colorado Springs, was closed for the same reason.

More recently, the Sand Creek Library on the east side of Colorado Springs was also closed recently due to plumbing issues. Brantner says that the branch is expected to reopen next week.