Heroin Use in Libraries a Growing Concern

Some libraries are taking steps to prepare themselves for overdoses on campus.

As opioid abuse continues to be a problem in the U.S., library officials across the country are seeing an increase in drug-related incidents at their institutions.

Libraries in several states have been the location of fatal heroin overdoses and near-fatal overdoses in recent months, reports CBS News.

“People need to know that this is happening everywhere and that public libraries haven’t done anything wrong to cause it to happen in public libraries,” says Josie Parker, director of the Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan.

RELATED: Why Flakka Patients Are Creating Security Risks at Hospitals

Parker and other library officials at Ann Arbor have taken steps to discourage drug use in their library. As a result of that effort, police and social workers are common sights in Ann Arbor’s library and places in the building where drugs could be hidden, such as bathroom ceilings and toilet tanks, have been removed. Some of those changes were made ten years ago to stop cocaine trafficking.

Other libraries, such as Ohio’s Toledo library system, are training their peace officers to work in conjunction with the sheriff’s Drug Abuse Response Team. Libraries in Boston offer overdose prevention training for employees and have installed needle drop boxes.

Several people have been revived in libraries this year with overdose antidotes like Narcan. Other libraries, including ones located in Norfolk, Virginia and Chicago, have reported deaths related to heroin overdoses.

“Clearly when you have the epidemic that we have and the issues with the patrons that we have, we need to organize assistance,” American Library Association President Julie Todaro says. “That doesn’t mean we ourselves provide it.”

Todaro stressed the importance of partnerships with local law enforcement agencies to combat the problem.

The increased prevalence of highly addictive, dangerous drugs like heroin has made overdoses in places like hospital bathrooms and college campuses more common. It appears police can add libraries to that list.

Read Next: Drug Trend: It’s Just a Vape Pen, Right?

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo