Libraries Not Only Build Lives, They Save Lives

Back in September, I wrote about Why Libraries Are the Heart and Soul of Local Communities.

The post noted that while libraries offer great resources to their local communities – books, audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, newspapers, toys, puzzles, games, computer terminals with internet access, reference librarians, children’s programs, sponsor 5K runs; they also offer services such as lending ties and briefcases to job seekers. Some libraries also offer help getting ready for a job, through resume assistance and hosting job fairs.

In other words, libraries are great places to help people build their lives.

But now, libraries are also saving lives.

Some libraries in Philadelphia are looking to stem the opioid crisis by providing people with free medication to counter overdoses.

The initiative is part of “Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week,” which is intended to combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The state’s health department will be distributing kits with free naloxone, commonly known by its brand name Narcan. The medication is then free for anyone who wants the medication.

This is not the first time libraries in Philadelphia have taken steps to combat the opioid crisis.

While other libraries were practicing fire drills, McPherson Square Branch library in the Kensington area of the city began overdose drills as a result of four overdoses in the library in 2016.

Who stays with the victim? Who calls 911? Who ushers out the kids? Who waits for an ambulance?

In March of last year, Marion Parkinson, who supervises a half-dozen libraries, joined the branch manager at McPherson in taking Narcan training into their own hands.

“We kind of very subversively did it,” Parkinson said.

Instead of waiting for permission, they asked Prevention Point Philadelphia, a needle-exchange program, to demonstrate the use of Narcan. It was held before McPherson opened, but more than two-dozen librarians showed from six North Philadelphia libraries.

“They had been wanting the training for a long time,” Parkinson said of the McPherson librarians. “It’s a very, very helpless feeling when someone is gasping for breath and you can’t do anything.”

Since one of the librarians has been trained, she has administered Narcan to four overdose victims.

So when you combine the access to free Narcan with a staff that is already trained in how to administer it, libraries have become a key resource is battling the opioid crisis.

Just further proof that libraries are the heart, soul, and lifesaver, of our communities.

*image from CNN

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