The opioid epidemic is a problem in this country that needs addressing, and while this column is not intended to support any solution, or even report on the issue as a whole, we can inform you on how public libraries are responding on the local and national level. Recently, the biopharmaceutical company Emergent BioSolutions and maker of the anti-overdose drug Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride), committed to offering two Narcan kits to every public library in the nation. This was done through a grant written by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
I suppose now is a good time to let you know that the Hamilton Public Library has had two such kits for a couple months, and that most of our staff is trained to use it, should the need arise. I didn’t make an announcement about our Narcan training, set up by the Hamilton Area Community Coalition and working with SOMAC, due to a fear that if advertised, our library could be a target for opioid abuse. Now that every public library in the United States is expected to carry the needle-free overdose reversal drug, well, consider this column our announcement.
So why are libraries doing this? The answer can be summarized in the following logic equation. If libraries serve the public, and the public abuses opioids (generally speaking), libraries should address the opioid crisis. [And I thought I was never going to use truth tables again!] We’ve been the catch-all for tax forms, voter registration forms, computer help, so why not tackle the opioid epidemic?!
Is it likely that we’ll ever use these kits? Not very. But better to have it and never use it than not have it and need it. Chalk another one up to ‘other duties as assigned,’ I guess!