Brockton Public Library making changes to cope with opioid crisis

BROCKTON, Mass. -- Public libraries are getting creative when it comes to dealing with the opioid crisis.

The library director in Brockton says he's taken steps to keep addicts out of his library.

The bathrooms inside the Brockton Public Library will now be locked at all times. To get in, you need a key, which is kept by the reference desk.

"We know who is going in there and we know how long they've been in there," said library director Paul Engel.

When Engel became Brockton's library director a little over a year ago, he immediately began training his librarians on how to use narcan. There are four doses of the life-saving nasal spray stashing inside the library.

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"I don't want to reveal where they are because I don't want anyone to steal them from me," said Engel.

There's no question people are using opioids outside of the public library. Boston 25 News searched across the street, catty-corner from the library in the parking lot are dozen of needle caps, as well as three used doses of narcan.

Engel says his staff will occasionally find a dirty needle inside the library, but this is not just a Brockton problem.

The opioid crisis is spilling into libraries across the state.

  • In 12 months, EMS responded to 25 "narcotic-related illnesses" at Boston public libraries
  • Last year, two people overdosed inside Quincy's Thomas Crane Library
  • Two others almost died in Cambridge's Central Square branch
  • Police in Revere were called to the public library in July for a man who overdosed.

MORE: By the books: How libraries are dealing with the opioid crisis

Jill Sims-Hauser lives in Brockton. She told Boston 25 News she's a recovering addict.

"When you get to the point where you're an addict to the point where you have to use a bathroom like that, you don't care about much," said Sims-Hauser.

Janeyana Weiss is a mother of two boys in Brockton and says she doesn't want them around that.

"They're going to use wherever they can to get high. It makes me sick to my stomach because I don't want my kids to be subjected to any of this," said Weiss.

According to police records, officers were called to the main library branch at least five times in 18 months for complaints of dirty needles.

Engel says there haven't been any overdoses since he's been in charge, but more than a dozen of his librarians are trained and ready to respond in case there is one.