From Drug Abuse to Homelessness: Libraries Embrace Role Beyond Books

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Kids and parents gather at TeenScape in Los Angeles Public Library's Central Library location in Downtown Los Angeles to attend a workshop where they learned the basics of video game design.  (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Nintendo of America)

When a man was found dead from an apparent drug overdose in a San Francisco Public Library bathroom in February, staff members asked for training in administering the lifesaving overdose medication Narcan. From drug abuse to mental health, some libraries are now taking on a bigger role when it comes to dealing with society’s toughest issues. We’ll talk about the pioneering efforts of California libraries in addressing community needs, and how libraries have evolved to become much more than a place to borrow books.


Luis Herrera, city librarian, San Francisco Public Library

Leah Esguerra, social service team supervisor at San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing

Sarah Vantrease, assistant director, Butte County Library

Chris Henning, marketing communications manager, Denver Public Library