Throughout our community, in big ways and small, people’s lives are being affected by opioids. For several years now, it’s been a hot topic in the news, online, and around kitchen tables. We hear about the statistics, the deaths, the Narcan, but behind each of those numbers is a story. Part of finding our way out of this crisis is to listen to each other’s stories and learn what we can do to help.
As you know, the library is about more than just books. We offer a variety of print and digital resources, but one of the most important resources we have at the library is our staff. Library staff know stuff, and know how to find answers. Every day, we help people with everything from job search skills, to finding housing, and learning computer basics. Our staff are not social workers, but we handle situations that might give the impression that we are. The library is a place where everyone can come for help without judgement.
Even beyond books and other information resources, there is a growing trend of libraries serving as community gathering spaces, or third places. (Home, work, library). People need to feel connected, and the library is a great place to find that. Planning library events and providing meeting spaces for community use are both examples of how we’re filling that need. Our events are for people of all ages, and appeal to a variety of interests. Some are educational, some are designed to entertain. But the goal of all of our events is to bring people together. If you haven’t been to a library event recently, or just want to see what we’re doing this month, check out our online calendar. Social isolation can contribute to a variety of problems in a community, one of which is addiction. Libraries and library events are in a unique position to facilitate positive connections in people’s lives.
Sometimes, library events are more direct, inviting the community to gather and discuss an important topic, like the opioid epidemic. We have had several such conversations, and heard from authors who have written books on the subject – including Sam Quinones’ Dreamland, and Teresa Flores’ Slave Across the Street. Later this month, we’ll be hosting a different kind of event. Daniel Skinner and Berkeley Franz, editors of a new book Not Far From Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio, will be at the library, though not specifically to talk about their book. Not Far From Me tells 50 or so stories from people around Ohio whose lives have been affected by opioids. This event will look at the topic of Challenging Assumptions and Humanizing the Addict, and will invite participants to share their experiences. We hope that you will join us Tuesday July 16 from 6-8 at the Main Library Annex, and add your voice to the conversation.