If you've been paying attention at all over the past few years, you know that an opioid addiction epidemic has swept across America, affecting people across races and socioeconomic classes. Prince died of an opioid overdose, for crying out loud.
Now another American institution is feeling the effects of the health crisis: libraries, with their quiet spaces and free public access, are becoming a destination for drug users to shoot up heroin.
Although places like gas stations and restaurants experience drug users and overdoses, libraries are inherently more welcoming. They're free -- you don't even have to check out a book to use them -- and people tend to keep to themselves.
It's become such an issue that the American Library Association is encouraging librarians to be trained in overdose response. You know a health crisis is serious when librarians are literally being drafted into service as first responders. In Eureka, CA, for example, librarian Kitty Yancheff discovered a patron who had overdosed after she noticed his lips were turning blue. She successfully revitalized him by injecting the heroin antidote Narcan into his leg, and then into his arm.