For immediate release | May 4, 2020

Libraries and the substance abuse crisis

CHICAGO — The opioid epidemic, and other behavioral health issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, directly impact every community across the nation; and, by extension, public libraries’ daily work. Because libraries are not only trusted guardians of information but also vital community centers, people struggling with addictive behaviors as well as their family members and friends often turn to the library for help. But many library workers feel overwhelmed, finding themselves unprepared for serving these patrons in an effective and empathetic way. Cindy Grove’s new book “Libraries and the Substance Abuse Crisis: Supporting Your Community,” published by ALA Editions, encourages readers to turn their fears and uncertainty into strengths and empowerment, offering to-the-point guidance on welcoming people with substance use disorders and their loved ones through policy, materials, outreach, collaboration, programs, and services. Written by a frontline librarian whose personal experiences inform the book, this resource:

  • explores the library’s role in the fight against addiction and how to become part of the solution by combating stigma;
  • provides background on understanding how substance abuse and related behaviors affect different age groups and populations;
  • explains how to be proactive regarding library safety and security by carefully crafting library policies and effectively communicating them to staff;
  • offers real world guidance on training library staff, including pointers on recognizing observable signs of drug abuse and responding appropriately and safely to uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations;
  • discusses safeguards such as a needle disposal unit, defibrillator, and Naloxone;
  • gives tips on marketing, outreach, and programming, from putting together displays of materials and resources to partnering with local organizations; and
  • recommends useful websites, documentaries, and additional resources for further learning.

Grove is the director of a public library in New England. She has worked in libraries for over sixteen years and also has five years’ experience working with various social service agencies. Throughout her life she has worked with people with substance use disorders and their loved ones. She has also appeared as a panelist on several webinars that focus on substance use disorders and mental health.

This title is also available in e-book format through the ALA Store as well as through aggregators and other distributors. To support the need for increased remote access to information, we are making our e-books easier to obtain. For more information visit Many book retailers and distributors are experiencing service disruptions or delays, including Amazon. For speediest service, order direct from the ALA Store.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library and information professionals worldwide. ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman publishes resources used by library and information professionals, scholars, students, and educators to improve programs and services, build on best practices, enhance pedagogy, share research, develop leadership, and promote advocacy. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a growing range of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman at

Related Links

"Libraries and the Substance Abuse Crisis: Supporting Your Community"

"Recipes for Mindfulness in Your Library: Supporting Resilience and Community Engagement"

Library Futures Series Bundle


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

American Library Association

ALA Publishing