Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities

Image of people talking

The opioid epidemic was declared a national public health emergency in 2017,  and the situation worsened due to the 2020 COVID pandemic. Provisional data from the CDC National Health Statistics Center show that from September 2020 to September 2023, opioid overdose deaths in the US increased by 19%, from 88,879 to 105,303. As community anchor institutions, public libraries are leveraging their assets in response to this crisis. 

To aid staff at public libraries in determining how their library can address opioid use disorder in their community, WebJunction has developed the “Opioid Crisis Support Kit for Public Libraries.” This resource will help strengthen libraries—and, more broadly, the communities they serve—as the nation continues to struggle with the opioid crisis.

The Support Kit was tested by staff in 15 public libraries across the US and enhanced by their feedback. The content includes pragmatic strategies, tools, and other resources to help libraries—including those in rural areas—as they determine their specific communities' needs and define the roles and activities their library is most suited to carry out. The kit will help libraries assess their staff strengths and capacity, identify key partners with whom to collaborate or coordinate, and plan and implement programming and services that support local needs.

Available now

The "Opioid Crisis Support Kit for Public Libraries" is in Word document format, so that you can save your work, thoughts, and ideas. There are videos, readings, and activities specific to library work that you can learn from and explore.

Download the Support Kit

Webinar recording

On May 16, 2024, we hosted a free webinar for library staff to learn more about the Support Kit, how it was created, and how to use it. Library staff who participated in the early testing and who were able to implement new programs to meet local needs also share their work.

View recording

Preceding research

This initiative builds on research conducted by OCLC and the Public Library Association on the IMLS-funded study, Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities (2018-20). That project included eight case studies on how libraries were responding to the opioid crisis with their communities, and a Call to Action.

The program is made possible by support from OCLC and through a National Leadership Grant
(project number LG-250082-OLS-21) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Most recently added

Books, programming, resources: Helping patrons through the opioid crisis

Publish Date: News / 16 June 2023

The opioid crisis which has crashed through American communities has brought patrons to public libraries seeking information about opioids and addiction. This collection of resources can help you connect patrons to the information that they need to s...

WebJunction to Lead and Support New IMLS Grants

Publish Date: News / 25 August 2021

OCLC's WebJunction program is pleased to announce their role in five new IMLS grant projects. In addition to leading one of the new grants, we will serve as advisory, dissemination, or design partners on three additional IMLS National Leadership Gran...

Call to Action: Public Libraries and the Opioid Crisis

Publish Date: Webinar / 31 March 2020

This webinar will present a newly published call to action, offering strategies for public libraries to consider as they determine a local response to the nationwide opioid crisis.

Call to Action: Public Libraries and the Opioid Crisis

Publish Date: News / 26 February 2020

We're excited to announce a new report from OCLC and the Public Library Association (PLA). Call to Action: Public Libraries and the Opioid Crisis, offers tested strategies to consider as libraries determine local responses to the nationwide public he...