VIDEO: Denver’s Main Library Now Stocks Medication to Treat Heroin Overdoses

Steve Staeger, KUSA 8:04 PM. MDT March 16, 2017

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DENVER – Michelle Jeske says anyone can walk into a library and everyone is welcome.

It’s a reminder of just how public a library is.

But Jeske never expected that she’d be treating drug overdoses once she became a librarian.

“Definitely, over the last few years, my job has changed quite a bit,” she says at the Denver Public Library’s Central branch. “This isn’t the kind of thing back in 1993 that we were being taught in graduate school.”

Six people have overdosed on heroin at the Denver Public Library’s Central branch since the library started keeping track this year. The problem became bad enough that in late February, the library started stocking Narcan, a nasal spray used by first responders to revive heroin overdose victims.

Since then, staff members have administered four doses of it, including one on the first day Narcan was available at the library.

Thirteen staff members at this Denver library, the only one that stocks Narcan, are specially trained to administer the medication. The library also employs social workers.

Denver’s chief librarian said the library is a key public space for all people in Denver.

“In general most people understand that there are a lot of people in our community who are suffering from any number of challenges whether those are behavioral issues, mental health issues, substance abuse issues,” Jeskie said.