Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities

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The nation is experiencing an opioid epidemic. In October 2017, a national public health emergency was declared by the federal government under the Public Health Services Act. As the impact of this epidemic is felt in communities across the country, public health and human service organizations are working on responses that include healthcare, education, law enforcement and the judicial system, emergency services, drug and addiction counseling, and community services. Public libraries around the country are choosing to be part of this response.

With funding from a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and in partnership with the Public Library Association (PLA), OCLC will identify, synthesize, and share knowledge and resources that will help public libraries and their community partners develop effective strategies and community-driven coalitions that work together to address the opioid epidemic in America.

This project has the following deliverables:

  • produce eight case studies that explore a diverse set of communities in which the library is an active partner in response to the opioid epidemic (November 2018 - May 2019);
  • through virtual discussion sessions, gather additional insights and resources from government agencies, public health and human services organizations, philanthropic and community organizations, and library leaders (May - June 2019);
  • synthesize the research and cross-sector perspectives into a call-to-action white paper that offers resources and recommendations for how libraries might respond to the opioid epidemic in their local communities (October 2019); and
  • broadly share the information with public library directors and their staff so that they can more confidently make better-informed decisions about their libraries’ strategies, policies, and activities in relation to the opioid epidemic in their communities (November - December 2019). 

The project will also raise awareness among other sectors that libraries, in their role as community anchors, make powerful partners; this realization will encourage more, and stronger, coalitions and networks that include libraries as key partners.

How can I stay up-to-date on the project?

New information about the project will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and through our Crossroads eNewsletter. There is also a Facebook group, focusing on libraries and the crisis that may be of interest. Email project director Kendra Morgan at any time with questions, ideas, or feedback:

The program is made possible by support from OCLC and the Public Library Association and through a National Leadership Grant (project number LG-00-18-0298-18) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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