This week’s ALA Reflection

Kristi Chadwick shares her ALA experience.

It was terrific to attend a variety of sessions in Chicago, but this session was a delight for my continued work to support member libraries with diverse adult collections and as a member of the committee.

“Growing Readership Through Diversity,” is this year’s annual RUSA CODES Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee forum. It included a panel of speakers: Juliet Grimes from Soho Press, Robin Bradford, Collection Development Librarian from Timberland Regional Library, OR, and Jamie LaRue, director of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom to Read Foundation. Each person was able to talk about adult titles and diversity from their own perspective. Grimes focused on how publishers and editors may look for the writers they know, and as titles are pitched from editors to publishers to PR, the sound bites can never encompass the knowledge that should be passed along. Bradford spoke of needing to go beyond traditional resources for discovering books as selectors: while some trade journals are working on expanding the breadth of access to titles, especially self-published titles through the years, there is so much to discover about them now, as patrons are finding them through the internet: Amazon, social media and other discovery tools. LaRue spoke of the intersection of intellectual freedom and diverse voices, discussing the book A Birthday Cake for George Washington and the polarized discussion around it and its ultimate pull from shelves.

While children’s literature has had some strong focus, and some very good results, with meeting issues of diversity, adult collections still have a long way to go.

Project SET takes on public speaking

The 12 participants of Project SET: Skills, Empowerment, Talent, gathered in our Marlborough office this week for their second daylong session. Project SET is a learning community guided by members of the Massachusetts Library System’s Consulting and Training Services team. Project participants gather six times during the program for a day of activities and discussions designed to develop their leadership skills as a trainer in the library community.

This month Project SET participants attended a morning training with accomplished Speech Coach, Amanda Parker. Ms. Parker’s presentation, a favorite from sessions past, eased them into the afternoon, when they practiced their public speaking skills with each other. Public speaking is a necessary, but often nerve wracking skill to develop. So, if you know any of the Project SET attendees, give them a pat on the back. They worked bravely this week.

Project SET is: Michelle Filleul, C.M. Flynn, Nicole Giroux, Natane Halasz, Allison Keaney, Sara Kelso, Alexander London, Danielle Masterson, Elizabeth McGovern, Kate Powers, Katie Beth Ryan, Linda St. Laurent, Amanda Fauver, April Mazza, Kelly Jo Woodside, and Christi Showman-Farrar

The Opioid Epidemic: Your Library Can Help

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that, “Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid.” Concerned about this tragedy and interested to identify ways that libraries can help alleviate the opioid epidemic, I reached out to Fred Newton, President & CEO of Hope House Addiction Services in Boston,  who served on Governor Baker’s Opioid Working Group to inquire about his views on how we can help.  Thank you to Fred for taking the time to share his personal thoughts and insights.

Fred Newton, President & CEO, Hope House

Michelle Eberle (ME): How can librarians help alleviate the opioid crisis in Massachusetts?  

Fred Newton (FN): Librarians should become trained in the administration of Narcan. Narcan™ (naloxone) is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose. It may seem unlikely that a person would overdose in a library, but any place with public rest rooms may see an increased risk.  Staff should be trained and carry Narcan always!

Librarians should become familiar with the State Without Stigma” and “Good Samaritan Law campaigns, to educate others that substance use disorders are a medical disease that need intervention and not morality or shame!  The Good Samaritan Law provides safety for people who report suspected drug activity.

Librarians should collaborate with local elementary and secondary schools to coordinate the educational needs of their community’s response to the opioid epidemic. In part, emphasizing the imperative to avoid discarded used syringes because of the potential lethality. Calling local municipal public works and public health departments about the discarded syringes is critical. In Boston call 311.

Librarians should to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of opioid use when people (family and friends) are seeking this information regarding a loved one. In part, those signs and symptoms may include: noticeable elation/ euphoria, marked sedation/drowsiness, confusion, constricted (“pinned”) pupils, slowed breathing, intermittent nodding off, or loss of consciousness.

Lastly, librarians should become aware of and conversant in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), including Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), which combine behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders. Examples of MAT include, methadone maintenance and Suboxone (combination of buprenorphine/naloxone).

(ME) What key recommendations in the action plan are most relevant for librarians?

(FN) Narcan has saved more lives than any other intervention!

Substance Use Disorders, including Opioid Use Disorders are a medical condition. Diagnostic criteria for these and other “disorders may be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM5),

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) can save lives

Each community has its own special needs and considerations. Librarians must be in tune with what they are.  Many communities have groups with titles like “(town) drug and alcohol coalition,” which include representatives from police, fire and ambulance services, city or town delegate, public health nurse, school official, concerned citizens and others.

Poster from Mass Health Promotion Clearinghouse

Poster from Mass Health Promotion Clearinghouse

Make sure there are appropriate flyers and posters on display to stop the stigma, and offer information and help for people who are dealing with the crisis.  Flyers and posters in discreet areas are helpful to those who can’t ask for help, publicly.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an information helpline at 1-800-327-5050 or

(ME) What type of community programs would you like to see public libraries and school libraries offer that would help alleviate the opioid epidemic?

(FN) Host expert educational talks on different aspects of substance use disorders, e.g., “The progression of the disease”.  Many people think that it is just a phase that the person is going through, or take the attitude of “s/he is only drinking alcohol all kids do that”.  Another topic is the effects of a substance use disorder on the family members.  How do other families act or react?  Inviting a person in the community to publicly talk of their substance use disorder and recovery can be very powerful. Host family support groups, like “Learn to Cope” or “Alanon.”

Providing any kind of positive alternatives to alcohol and drug use, gang involvement, etc. is critical.
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A member-driven organization needs drivers

MLS is a member-driven organization. As such, we need members to help drive. Members like you.

The Executive Board recently approved a new committee structure to encourage active membership in MLS. We want you to participate with MLS in many ways, so we’re going to explore structures that are focused and short term, e.g., focus groups, task forces, guided discussions, as well as one-on-one communications.  To this end, we’ve created a volunteer form so you can let us know what you’re interested in.  Just responding will help us know what are the topics that interest you on an individual and a group basis.

We know you have limited time and many opportunities. Consider these benefits of volunteering for MLS activities:

  • blow up your bubble – meet other library staff
    • professional and para-professional
    • from School, Public, Academic and Special libraries
    • from the Berkshires to the Cape, Plum Island to Nantucket
  • learn from new peers
  • build your resume
  • change the world

Please feel free to contact MLS Executive Director, Greg Pronevitz ( if you have any questions or suggestions about active membership and/or committees.