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New publications detail public library responses to the opioid crisis

CHICAGO —The Public Library Association (PLA) and OCLC have released two new publications that demonstrate how public libraries are responding to the opioid crisis in their communities. In September 2018, the two organizations launched a collaborative project to collect and share knowledge and resources to support public libraries and their community partners in addressing this national health crisis.

Over the past twelve months, PLA and OCLC have conducted a research study of eight public libraries across the U.S. that are employing a variety of strategies to address the opioid problem. Participating libraries included Barrington (R.I.) Public Library, Blount County (Tenn.) Public Library, Everett (Wash.) Public Library, Kalamazoo (Mich.) Public Library, New Orleans (La.) Public Library, Peoria (Ill.) Public Library, Salt Lake County (Utah) Library, and Twinsburg (Ohio) Public Library. This report highlights the findings from the eight case study sites, highlights emerging practices of how libraries are responding to the crisis in collaboration with their partners, and identifies both the opportunities and barriers that libraries should consider. It also includes insights and experiences from a range of local community partners and those affected by the crisis, adding the perspectives and knowledge of relevant agencies and organizations.

This research surfaced the following as major outcomes of the libraries’ response activities:

  • Increased relevant resources made available to the community, such as naloxone and drug disposal kits
  • Made a positive impact on patrons’ lives
  • Increased community awareness and knowledge about the opioid crisis
  • Began to address stigma about substance use disorder
  • Increased positive perception of the library
  • Developed new partnerships and expanded existing ones, resulting in coordinated efforts that better meet community needs
  • Reached other libraries and community organizations

A free webinar was hosted by OCLC’s WebJunction on Wednesday, October 30 and the recording for the event is now available. Additional webinars will be offered in the coming months, and a call-to-action report will be published in early 2020. This project is made possible with financial support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (project number LG-00-18-0298-18).

Download the Summary Report (PDF, 44 pages)

Download the Supplemental Case Studies (PDF, 78 pages)

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About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA offers professional development opportunities, unique public library initiatives, and a conference that welcomes public library staff into meaningful partnership. In collaboration with its parent organization, the American Library Association, PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders.

About OCLC
OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC’s WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world’s collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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