Saving Lives in the Stacks How libraries are handling the opioid crisis

Source: Anne Ford, American Libraries, June 21, 2017

…..What Simon didn’t say—but what librarians far and wide know—is that the McPherson Square branch is just one of many American libraries struggling with opioid-related issues such as discarded, contaminated needles; drug use in the library itself; and even on-site overdoses and fatalities. Libraries from California to Colorado, Pennsylvania to Missouri, are finding themselves on the front lines of a battle they never anticipated fighting. Of course, opiate use isn’t limited to libraries. Neither is anyone claiming that the problem is more severe in libraries than it is anywhere else. Still, the fact that libraries are open to all, offer relative anonymity, and generally allow patrons to stay as long as they like make them uniquely vulnerable to those seeking a place to use drugs…..

The opioid epidemic is so bad that librarians are learning how to treat overdoses
Source: Darran Simon, CNN, June 24, 2017

…..Long viewed as guardians of safe spaces for children, library staff members like Kowalski have begun taking on the role of first responder in drug overdoses. In at least three major cities — Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco — library employees now know, or are set to learn, how to use the drug naloxone, usually known by its brand name Narcan, to help reverse overdoses.

Their training tracks with the disastrous national rise in opioid use and an apparent uptick of overdoses in libraries, which often serve as daytime havens for homeless people and hubs of services in impoverished communities.

In the past two years, libraries in Denver, San Francisco, suburban Chicago and Reading, Pennsylvania have become the site of fatal overdoses…..
Related:
Librarians In Philadelphia Train To Thwart Drug Overdoses
NPR, Weekend Edition, June 3, 2017

The McPherson Branch of the Free Public Library sees almost daily heroin overdoses. NPR’s Scott Simon talks to Mike Newall of the Philadelphia Inquirer and librarian Chera Kowolski about the response.

For these Philly librarians, drug tourists and overdose drills are part of the job
Source: Mike Newall, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1, 2017

I visited the century-old library that sits atop Needle Park in Kensington because I’d heard its staff was the first in the city to learn how to administer the lifesaving overdose antidote Narcan.

They have been using the spray so often that they can tell the type of overdose simply by the sound coming from the lavatory: Heroin victims slide sluggishly into unconsciousness, the librarians have found, while victims of deadly fentanyl collapse instantly, with a thud that resonates through the entire building, which is called the McPherson Square Branch….

Salt Lake County librarians trained to respond to drug overdoses
Source: Deseret News, June 29, 2017

Salt Lake County Library Services, partnering with the Salt Lake County Health Department, has trained librarians on how to administer Narcan and has distributed naloxone kits to their branches….

Denver Public Library staff equipped with opioid overdose antidote
Source: KDVR, March 17, 2017

Staff at Denver Public Library’s central library are now carrying narcan, an opioid overdose antidote, in response to an increase in people overdosing at the library. …. Fewell said since the library started tracking the incidents in February, staff have counted six overdoses. ….