The critical role librarians play in the opioid crisis | Chera Kowalski | Summary and Q&A

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The critical role librarians play in the opioid crisis | Chera Kowalski


This content delves into the reality of how the opioid epidemic has impacted a community and how librarians are on the frontlines of providing support and saving lives.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What kind of services and programs do public libraries typically offer?

Public libraries offer a variety of services and programs, such as assisting with job seeking efforts, locating resources for voter rights, and providing free meals to kids and teens. They are known for their community support and aim to provide a wide range of resources and support to their patrons.

Q: How does the opioid crisis impact public libraries?

The opioid crisis has a profound impact on public libraries, especially those located in low-income communities heavily affected by drug use. Librarians often find themselves in the midst of the drug trade and deal with the challenges of assisting patrons who are visibly intoxicated on opioids, cleaning up discarded needles, and responding to overdoses. They have become frontline responders, utilizing tools like Narcan to save lives.

Q: How did the opioid epidemic affect the McPherson Square Library in Kensington?

The McPherson Square Library in Kensington, Philadelphia, faced immense challenges during the opioid epidemic. They witnessed an influx of out-of-state individuals coming to the area for cheap heroin, and drug use became rampant in the park surrounding the library. They dealt with clogged toilets due to discarded needles and the need for sharps containers and bathroom monitors. Overdoses occurred both inside the library and in the park, causing fear and uncertainty.

Q: What motivated the speaker to work at McPherson Square Library and provide support to the community?

The speaker, who had personal experiences with substance use disorder in their own family, chose to work at the McPherson Square Library to make a difference in a community struggling with the opioid crisis. They wanted to utilize their own experiences to guide their work and provide support to others who were facing similar challenges. Their aim was to let go of a feeling of helplessness and be a source of stability and assistance for the community.

Q: How are public libraries responding to the needs of communities impacted by the opioid crisis?

Public libraries are adapting to the needs of their communities and responding to the challenges posed by the opioid crisis. In the case of the McPherson Square Library, they sought training to administer Narcan and received the necessary resources to do so. They aim to provide a safe and supportive environment, offering assistance to those in need, and ensuring the well-being of their patrons.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Public libraries are facing new challenges due to the opioid epidemic, including responding to overdoses and providing resources for those affected.

  • Libraries in low-income communities, such as the McPherson Square Library in Philadelphia, are particularly impacted by the drug trade and drug use.

  • The library staff have had to adapt to this crisis by administering Narcan and providing support for the community, serving as a lifeline in the midst of the epidemic.

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