Friday, July 21, 2017

Behind the Numbers: If you haven't been to a library lately, you're missing out

If you haven’t been to the library recently, you’re missing out
by Erika Shaker

July 5, 2017

[A] library extends cultural services by providing everyone with an open area which serves as a venue for civil activity and creative ability. Libraries, which deviate from other cultural establishments, cover all fields of art and convey both information and experiences. Libraries do not present limits, rather they expand and unite different issues.

~ Maija Berndtson, Library Director in Helsinki, 1987–2013
Growing up in Hamilton, Ontario, my family frequented two public libraries: the downtown branch, a gorgeous structure built in 1913 with funding from American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, and the charmingly named Terryberry Library, after the 19th century settler on whose Hamilton Mountain property it was built. The name “Terryberry” lent the otherwise ordinary-looking building a sort of fairy-tale feel, with the bonus of ensuring I never, ever mispronounced “library” as “lie-berry.”

As kids we spent hours there, checking out books using the old card system, and later researching school projects through card catalogues. Every summer we got an extended loan period so we could borrow extra books for the entire two months of vacation. Even now when I go back home to visit my parents I am likely to find at least one book that never made it back to the library, its card and due-dated envelope affixed to the inside cover like a permanent, ink-stamped guilt-trip.

In 1980, Hamilton opened a new and much larger main branch downtown with (at the time) cutting-edge microfiche machines. The building itself is connected to the mall and the farmers’ market it houses, another Hamilton institution I’ve been visiting since I was in utero. On Saturdays it was common to see people leaving through the library doors, fresh vegetables and baked goods in one hand, book bag in the other. And as we became more independent, no longer needing parental accompaniment, the library somehow managed to be both an occasion and a familiar hangout at the same time.

Lest anyone think the Carnegie-funded heyday of this quaint institution has come and gone, my kids still have “Library Day” at school. When they were younger it took the form of regular class trips to the branch down the street, where Sue the librarian would read them a story before they picked out a book of their own to curl up with. Today my family still visits the library weekly for books and movies. The automated checkout stations are, granted, much flashier, the banks of computers connected to the internet always fully booked. But the clubs and reading circles, the public events and meetings, the hushed areas for silent study, the books and periodicals remain everything they used to be. In spite of the “death of print,” libraries, it seems, are still a thing.

But, as with most public institutions, libraries are also in austerity’s crosshairs. The mantras are predictable: we can’t afford such an expanse of non-commercial space; nobody reads books anymore; kids do all their research on the interwebs. The attacks have ranged from cold cost-cutting assessments (KPMG advised the City of Toronto in 2011 to “rationalize the footprint of libraries to reduce service levels, closing some branches”) to sometimes-bizarre political musings. Toronto councillor Doug Ford famously and incorrectly claimed his Etobicoke ward had more libraries than Tim Hortons—apparently a crime against nature. His Hamilton counterpart Donna Skelly announced this year that any increase to the city’s budget must “be based on the role the library plays in modern society, and not the one it did 100 years ago.”

Newfoundland and Labrador announced in 2016 it would close over half the province’s public libraries, which would put 15% of the population more than a 30-minute drive from their nearest branch, and leave Fogo Island without a library altogether. For smaller communities it was a devastating decision. “Books are often scarce in these areas,” wrote Nick Farris in the National Post, “but their libraries, like Fogo’s, are not just repositories of printed words. They make the internet freely accessible, in places where broadband connectivity is not quite universal. They provide public space where movie theatres and sporting arenas have never been built.” The public was so enraged the government suspended the closures pending consultations and a review of the policy.

More recently, Saskatchewan planned to inflict $4.8 million in cuts to its public libraries, reflecting “the new reality for libraries in the 21st century,” according to a CBC report. “The future of libraries is leaning more towards electronic media,” said Education Minister Don Morgan. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t have bricks and mortar, but there certainly is a shift.” Mere days later the government hastily backtracked. “We’ve heard from people pretty clearly that they value the library in its present form,” Morgan conceded. “It’s important for them not just to have the electronic capability, but they also want to have the physical space to go to.”

In both Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador the library as a structural feature may be safe, at least for now, but elsewhere the institution’s lifeblood—its librarians—is being sapped. Back in Toronto two smaller libraries recently extended their short hours, but with a catch: the facilities will not be staffed. Instead, empty buildings will be monitored through video surveillance, “to connect customers to staff when needed.” People can reserve or pick up books, and use the wireless, but the space will no longer be conducive to deeper research.

Librarians are more than mere monitors of the library space. Montreal’s Côte-Saint-Luc’s city hall lowered its flags when the town’s founding librarian died in recognition of her community contributions. In a public talk, the recently deceased Indigenous author Richard Wagamese paid tribute to the St. Catharines, Ontario librarian who changed his life by answering his questions, recommending books, and taking him to art galleries and the opera.

There is no question that, in a time of “alternative facts,” librarians have an even more vital role to play. We are inundated with information on a daily—even hourly—basis. The line between opinion and news is blurring, and conspiracy-based websites are proliferating, shared more easily than ever on social media platforms. In such an environment, the ability to find accurate, vetted information has never been more important.

And that is precisely what librarians were trained for. It’s no wonder they are helping design school curriculum and resource guides, and holding workshops to educate the public on what digital literacy and critical thinking means—in the immediate political context, yes, but as a general requirement for an informed citizenry.

Far from being outmoded or irrelevant, libraries continue to occupy a key place, literally and figuratively, in the hearts and minds of communities. They are increasingly at the forefront of municipal and architectural revitalization initiatives, and today, in both Europe and North America, they are combining traditional lending and preserving functions with new services of use to urban centres. The Ottawa Public Library, for example, offers video and audio streaming services, free access to hundreds of magazines through apps like Zinio, and the latest video game rentals.

According to the Pew Research Center in the U.S., a significant percentage of library users think branches should consider moving some books out of public locations to free up space for technology labs, meeting or reading rooms, or for cultural events, so that the institution can continue to play an evolving role for patrons. However, a comfortable (and growing) majority of users do not want the library’s footprint to be reduced. In fact, they would prefer to see more space for reading, working and relaxing. And two-thirds of library users in the U.S. aged 16 and older believe closing their public library would have a major impact on their community.

The numbers were higher for women, older adults, parents of young children, low-income Americans, African Americans and Hispanics, who are more likely to use library computers and wireless. Additionally, those who are more civically active, or have worked with others to address a community problem or try to affect government policy, are more likely to visit the library, often for public meetings. Libraries were also seen in the Pew study as helpful in seeking health care information or learning new technologies, providing information on community events and alerts about volunteering opportunities, and finding a job or obtaining job training.

Some newer libraries have integrated the ongoing and expanding role of the library into its physical design. Halifax’s central library, for example, includes space for cafes, auditoriums and video gaming, as well as areas to record podcasts or play board games. The Toronto Reference Library and Vancouver’s central library offer digital media spaces, and a recent expansion to the latter has added a theatre, silent reading gallery and rooftop garden. The Waterdown Library and Civic Centre in Hamilton is literally built into the topography of the surrounding area, incorporating a seniors’ recreation centre and various municipal services, and designed to allow the facility to evolve with the varied needs of its patrons.

Architectural novelty often provides an attractive financial justification for library construction or expansion. That’s because libraries can offer remarkable return on investment. According to a high-profile 2013 study, for every $1 invested in the Toronto Public Library, Torontonians receive $5.63, representing an economic windfall to the city of $1 billion. Similar stats exist for the Ottawa Public Library. And when the Calgary Public Library eliminated fees for library cards in 2015, annual visits jumped by one million people. Ontario public library usage is at an all-time high.

Numbers aside, the public’s fondness for libraries—both for their potential as future hubs for new services and as a popular physical destination—is a reminder that these public institutions, despite the rhetoric of rationalization, have the capacity to be as nimble as any Silicon Valley startup. What is a makerspace or neighbourhood tool-sharing kitchen if not mostly a trendy library? This should be particularly relevant to urban planners and policy-makers today, as so many other community spaces and support programs are being reduced or becoming unavailable.

Far from old-fashioned, the library’s version of sharing is innovative and—bonus!—sustainable.

Erika Shaker is Director of Education and Outreach with the CCPA. Follow her on Twitter @ErikaShaker.

Source: Behind the Numbers

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Globe and Mail Columnist: Outrage over group’s use of Toronto library threatens freedom of speech

Outrage over group's use of Toronto library threatens freedom of speech
By Marcus Gee

July 13, 2017

Free speech is the cardinal right – the right that underpins all others. Yet how casually we brush it aside.

This week in Toronto, a small group held a memorial service at a public library branch for a lawyer who had defended Holocaust deniers and other figures on Canada's far-right fringe. Spokesmen for Jewish groups said they were outraged that the Toronto Public Library would provide a platform for such a gathering. Mayor John Tory was "deeply concerned." Members of city council said they were shocked. "Those tied to hate and bigotry have no place in our libraries," Councillor James Pasternak said.

They seemed entirely oblivious to the threat to freedom of expression. If the library takes it upon itself to decide who has the right to speak, where does it end? If it denies space to a far-right group, what happens when a far-left group comes along? What would it say to the many Canadians who suffered under communism if someone who denies the crimes of Stalin or Mao wanted to hold an event and was denied? What would it say to Toronto's large Tamil community if extreme Sinhalese nationalists were not permitted to hold a study meeting at the library about the crushing of the Tamil separatist movement in Sri Lanka?

Opinion: We need to protect free speech on campus1

It is precisely to avoid making these judgments that the library takes a neutral approach to those who book its spaces. It doesn't demand to vet their opinions in advance. As long as they follow basic rules of conduct, they get the space. So it is absurd to suggest that the library is somehow endorsing or countenancing the views of those who held this week's memorial.

Critics of the event seem especially upset that it took place in a "public space," under the roof of a publicly funded institution. It is not hard to see where that dangerous argument could lead. If people whose opinions are deemed beyond the pale are to be kept out of the public libraries, why not the public parks, the public squares, the public streets? Who gives them the right, some might say, to wave their nasty placards where all can see, or publish their rank opinions where all can read? Surely public spaces are where free speech, however outrageous or obnoxious, should be allowed to flourish. That is the principle behind the famous Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park, where people of every opinion and background get the chance to sound off in public. No one says that because the authorities allow it they are giving their stamp of approval to what is said.

Libraries, in particular, should be havens for free expression. They are the places citizens go to learn about the world in all its complexity. Librarians are always facing pressure from one group or another to ban books that they say might corrupt morals or spread hate. They are right to fend off such attempts. Librarians are guides to the world of knowledge, not arbiters of it. They should be equally impartial about who meets in library spaces.

Banning objectionable speech short of direct incitement to violence is always a mistake. Those who object to this week's event and gatherings like it have other ways to respond. One is to protest. If a hate group holds a rally, hold a rally condemning hate and praising tolerance. Another is to correct. When deniers spout nonsense about how many died or didn't die in the Holocaust, fight back with the undeniable facts.

The last option – perhaps the best when it comes to the tiny, miserable group of cranks who are Canada's white nationalists and Holocaust deniers – is simply to turn away. They feed on publicity like this week's fuss. Instead of fulminating against them or attacking the library for giving them space, ignore them. They don't deserve even a minute of our time, much less all the air time and headline space they got this week.

No matter how we choose to respond to offensive opinions, it is important to remember the danger of suppressing them. Even in a blessed place such as Canada – a strong, stable democracy with a respected Charter of Rights and Freedoms – freedom of speech can be a fragile thing. We saw that just recently, when three editors left their jobs after an angry pile-on over the complicated issue of cultural appropriation.

In a 1945 essay on free speech and the profusion of it in Hyde Park, George Orwell wrote: "The relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper of the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them."

On the evidence of the library affair and other events lately, public opinion in the Canada of 2017 is sluggish indeed.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Monday, July 17, 2017

Global News: Toronto library refuses to cancel controversial memorial despite requests from mayor, councillors

Toronto library refuses to cancel controversial memorial despite requests from mayor, councillors
By Jessica Patton

July 12, 2017

Despite concerns raised by Toronto Mayor John Tory and two Toronto city councillors, the Toronto Public Library has refused to cancel a memorial event in honour of a controversial lawyer taking place at the Richview Library Wednesday night.

Barbara Kulaszka, a former librarian turned Canadian free speech lawyer who represented controversial figures such as Marc Lemire – a self-proclaimed white nationalist and former president of the Canadian neo-Nazi white supremacist organization the Heritage Front, according to the memorial page.

Kulaszka died in her hometown of Brighton, Ont., after a battle with lung cancer June 15.

Critics have taken issue with the memorial as well as the speakers for the event, which include Lemire, and Paul Fromm, the organizer and another self-proclaimed white nationalist, who is also the founder of the Canadian Association for Free Expression.

Tory expressed his concern and said he issued a request to the Toronto Public Library staff to cancel the event but that he was informed “that the library has received legal advice that it cannot reject this room booking request.”

He added he has asked the library to have the event “closely monitored.”

The Toronto Public Library issued a statement and said they have taken the concerns seriously and do not tolerate hate speech, but that “cannot deny bookings from the community that are in accordance with the law and the library’s policy and rules of conduct.”

“However, should the group act in a manner that is not consistent with the law or our rules of conduct, please be assured that we will take immediate action.”

Counc. John Campbell tweeted he had also reached out to the Toronto Library and had spoken to the chief librarian but she would not “relent,” citing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom of Speech.

“It’s all well and good to advocate for free speech, but Toronto Public Library needs to demonstrate common sense on who gets rental space,” Campbell wrote in another tweet.

Sara Lefton, vice president of Greater Toronto at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs told Global News in an emailed statement that while the CIJA firmly supports free speech, “that doesn’t mean that publicly funded institutions such as libraries are obliged to provide a pulpit for white nationalists to promote their hateful agenda.

“It’s appalling and ludicrous that these individuals were given taxpayer subsidized space for an event, in light of their clear track record as leaders of a racist movement hostile to Jews, the Black community, and other Canadian minorities,” Lefton said, adding the CIJA has voiced their strong opposition to the library, the mayor’s office and city council.

Another Toronto councillor, James Pasternak, released a statement saying he was “deeply disturbed” to hear about the event as well as the fact that the group leading the service are selling tickets for $10 to attend.

Bernie Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, told Global News “There is no excuse for allowing neo-Nazis use of publicly funded facilities such as the Richview Public Library.

“Parliament has banned these neo Nazis from speaking on the Hill as has OISIE.”

Farber added he fears that if the event is allowed to take place in the public library, it will open the doors for more events of the same nature.

In the wake of the event, Tory said he has asked the libary board to review its room rental policies for future use.

Source: Global News

Friday, June 30, 2017

Chicago Tribune: Embattled Evanston librarian resigns after Facebook post criticizing library diversity

By Genevieve Bookwalter
June 29, 2017

Lesley Williams has resigned from her post as head of adult services
at the Evanston Public Library. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
Embattled Evanston librarian Lesley Williams announced Thursday that she had resigned from her position as head of adult services.

The announcement follows controversy in recent weeks over her time in the job, issues that included a 15-day suspension and a termination hearing earlier this month after the 20-plus-year veteran librarian wrote a public Facebook post criticizing the diversity of the Evanston Public Library, where she worked.

"I take this step with deep regret and sorrow. I have treasured my 20 years at EPL, and the many friendships and collegial relationships formed there," Williams wrote in an emailed statement. But, she wrote, "the current hostile atmosphere and mistrust would make it impossible for me to continue to be effective."

Williams declined to comment on whether she was asked to resign by the library or city staff, the library board or the City Council. Instead, she said, "we came to a mutual agreement on what was best for everyone."

Williams will retire with severance pay, she said, but declined to specify how much.

But, she said, "I don't feel any immediate pressure to get a new job. I don't have any immediate need to do that."

Williams said her future plans include advocating for "equity, social justice and racial justice" within the library system, city of Evanston and elsewhere.

Her decision follows weeks of community protests in support of Williams, the system's only African-American librarian. Williams' supporters have included Pastor Michael Nabors with Second Baptist Church and president of the Evanston/North Shore NAACP, as well as members of Evanston community group OPAL, the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership, among others.

Williams has said she could not go into details about the personnel issue that prompted the resignation, but said it involved accusations of "gross incompetence, insubordination and not contributing to a healthy work environment."

In the past, Evanston Public Library officials have declined to comment on the case, saying it is illegal to discuss personnel matters in public. Library officials did not return calls and emails seeking comment Thursday.

Administrators introduced new assistant library director Teri Campbell at the library board meeting earlier this month. Campbell also is African American.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Government of Ontario: Ontario Increasing Access to Technology at Public Libraries

Province Helping Libraries to Improve and Expand IT and Digital Services

June 22, 2017
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports

Ontario is helping people stay connected by increasing access to technology, digital services and training opportunities at public libraries in towns, cities and Indigenous communities across the province.

Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport was at the Burlington Central Library today to announce a new investment that will give people better access to resources like Wi-Fi hot spot lending programs, computers, printers, e-readers and technology-focused training.

Improving digital resources and services in rural, remote and First Nation public libraries was one of the top three ideas selected by people during Budget Talks, the consultations for the 2017 Ontario Budget. This idea received the second highest number of votes. Ontario is expanding on what was heard during the budget consultations and extending this support to all public libraries in the province.

This investment builds on a commitment in Ontario's Culture Strategy to support Ontario's public and First Nation libraries as essential spaces for people to access cultural experiences, technology and community life.

Investing in Ontario's public libraries is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is investing $3 million through the Improving Library Digital Services fund and will support up to 307 libraries and library organizations across the province. This includes $1 million for rural, remote and First Nation public libraries through Budget Talks.
  • Libraries will determine how their funding will be used, based on specific local needs.
  • Every year, Ontario’s 1,134 library service locations receive more than 72 million in-person visits and 108 million electronic visits.
  • Since 2013, the Ontario government has provided more than $136 million in funding for public and First Nation public libraries.

American Libraries: Library Websites for All Improving the experience for patrons with visual impairments

By Marcus Banks |  June 1, 2017

Screen reader software synthesizes web content into speech for people with visual impairments.
Screen reader software synthesizes web content
into speech for people with visual impairments.
Librarians take pride in assisting all users who come through their doors, even as these “doors” have become increasingly virtual. Although many people still visit libraries in person, it is now commonplace for users to access databases and ebooks through a library’s website or through e-readers. Some of those patrons have visual impairments and require specific support to make full use of a library’s online resources.

Providing this support in user-centered and responsive ways fulfills the librarian’s obligation to offer service to all users. However, paying attention to accessibility for visually impaired patrons is not just the right thing to do. It may also protect your library from legal trouble.

Legal precedents for access

In 2012 the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) sued the Free Library of Philadelphia on behalf of four blind patrons who were unable to use noncompliant Nook e-readers provided by the library. To settle that suit, the library agreed to purchase 10 new accessible e-readers and to ensure that all its e-readers were accessible within four years.

In recent years, legal challenges have expanded to include websites. Several retailers and banks have faced class-action suits because their websites were not fully accessible to individuals with visual disabilities, thus violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA, signed in 1990 and significantly amended in 2010, is the main US law that seeks to grant equal treatment of Americans with disabilities in all aspects of their lives.

The NFB lawsuit also claimed violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, another federal law. Section 504 of the act prevents any organization that receives federal funding from discriminating against people with disabilities. This provision was core to the NFB lawsuit, as the Free Library receives federal assistance. In addition, Section 508 ensures that federal agencies provide the same level of access to online information to all people, regardless of disability.

Neither the ADA nor the Rehabilitation Act explicitly addresses how entities should provide equal access to their websites, but other organizations have stepped up. The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 is the leading document that informs organizations of the relevant standards for making websites compliant. Although these guidelines don’t have the power of law, attorneys and judges have referred to them during legal proceedings.

In 2009 the American Library Association (ALA) Council passed a resolution entitled “Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources.” It encourages librarians to require that their vendors provide accessible products, specifically those that meet the standards of Section 508 as well as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. ALA’s Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies offers a toolkit of questions that librarians can ask their vendors regarding their compliance with these standards.

Best practices in website design

As more librarians design their library’s sites with off-the-shelf content management systems, they can take several straightforward steps to improve accessibility, such as including text that describes the content of all images, avoiding tiny fonts, using simple and economical language, and developing scripts that describe the contents of videos. Many more tips are available from the University of Washington’s Alliance for Access to Computing Careers. Per the ALA resolution, librarians should also advocate that any products provided by vendors have the same level of functionality as any materials produced by the library itself.

Given the importance of providing accessibility to library resources for all patrons, as well as the availability of best practices, it is not surprising to find that librarians are meeting this challenge.

Joan Lefkowitz, web services manager for San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), emphasizes that her library strives to “meet the current version of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.” This means that, among other things, users should be able to easily navigate the SFPL site using various screen readers, that is, software specifically designed to provide web content to people with visual disabilities. Videos should be sufficiently captioned, she says, and “a user should be able to navigate our site using a keyboard and no mouse.” SFPL works toward compliance with these standards using screen reader and keyboard-only testing with both sighted and visually impaired staff members. The library also contracts with local nonprofit Center for Accessible Technology to conduct additional usability testing and provide a road map for maintaining accessible resources over time. Lefkowitz notes that SFPL staffers push vendors to meet these same standards.

Over the course of 20 years, Karen Russ, the research and community engagement librarian at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Ottenheimer Library, has developed a strong protocol for using screen readers to evaluate the usability of the library’s own website as well as the sites of all library-subscribed databases. These tests occur in partnership with UALR’s Disability Resource Center. Russ and her colleagues regularly urge database vendors to adopt best practices for serving patrons who are visually impaired, such as those proposed by the Alliance for Access to Computing Careers. Russ often gets database vendors to fix any issues by the next release, in no small part because she says she puts up “a strong fight” to prevent the library from licensing any product that does not offer equivalent functionality to visually impaired patrons.

As a complement to her efforts, Russ has joined the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and encourages other librarians to do the same. One direct and immediate benefit of joining AHEAD is access to online webinars, including those on improving support for students with visual impairments.

Russ says her participation in AHEAD led to interesting discussions about how the disability offices can work with their libraries and spurred several service improvements at UALR, such as establishing a library liaison to the disability office and improving options for visually impaired students who want to read ebooks. At one point, hard copy books were transmitted to disk for these students, which was a time-consuming process. Today convenient and usable e-readers are readily available.

One common thread between SFPL and UALR’s experience is the connection to like-minded groups—a local nonprofit for SFPL, a professional association for UALR. Libraries looking to improve their support for patrons with visual impairments might find allies and experts to collaborate with. A wealth of information is available about simple steps libraries can take that will have a positive impact and keep your online resources accessible to all.

Source: American Libraries

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Opposing Views: Opioid Epidemic Turns Librarians Into First Responders

by Michael Allen
June 23, 2017

Librarians in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco are reportedly being trained to be first responders in response to the nation's opioid epidemic.

Chera Kowalski, a librarian in Philadelphia, recently revived a heroin and methamphetamine overdose victim with a double dose of Narcan, notes CNN.

Sterling Davis, a security guard, told the cable channel: "She's not a paramedic. She's just a teen-adult librarian -- and saved six people since April. That's a lot for a librarian."

"I understand the things the kids are seeing ... It's not normal," Kowalski said. "It's unfortunately their normal."

She explained how every second counts when treating an overdose with Narcan:
You're under a time limit. It's how fast can I do this ... I understand where [heroin users are] coming from and why they're doing it. I just keep faith and hope that one day they get the chance and the opportunity to get clean. A lot of things have to line up perfectly for people to enter recovery long-term.
Since 2015, there have also been overdoses in libraries in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Reading, Pennsylvania. In many cities, libraries have become shelters for those who are homeless, drug addicts and impoverished.

Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association, told CNN: "We have to figure out quickly the critical steps that people have to take so we can be partners in the solution of this problem."

Todaro said the association is creating a guide for "the role of the library in stepping in on this opiate addiction."

The library where Kowalski works is in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, which is a destination for "drug tourists" from around the country because of its reputation for heroin.

Judith Moore, a children's librarian and branch manager, said almost a half-dozen people have overdosed in the library's bathroom during the past 18 months.

Marion Parkinson, who oversees the Philadelphia library, said people now have to show identification to use the bathroom, which has a five-minute time limit that is monitored by paid staff.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said: "It is among the worst public health problems we've ever seen, and it's continuing to get worse. We have not seen the worst of it yet."

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has reportedly created a task force to deal with the city's opioid epidemic, and the city's health department created a "Don't Take the Risk" ad campaign to warn people about the addiction dangers of prescription drugs.

The Federal Drug Administration, which approves opioid prescription medications, also warns about addiction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also warns people of opioid addiction, notes on its website that 91 Americans die daily from an opioid (prescription or heroin) overdose.

The CDC says that of the 52,404 deaths from drug overdoses in 2015, a staggering 33,091 involved an opioid.

Source: Opposing Views