What’s happening?

In December 2021, some branches of the Enoch Free Pratt Library System added to their long list of community services an additional program for Baltimoreans struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, Meredith Cohn reports for The Baltimore Sun.  

Why target libraries for these addiction services? 

Substance abuse is a persistent issue in Baltimore City, and as overdoses rose nationwide during the pandemic, library officials pushed for a program that could help the people they used to turn away. Now some branches, like the Penn and Brooklyn locations, are offering peer counseling to those struggling with these issues and their families to help them connect with existing resources.

“Ultimately, for someone to accept help and get treatment, they need to be stable and not on the street,” said Councilman Zeke Cohen. “This doesn’t mean people can use drugs in the library. It’s saying we’re not going to kick someone out who has used within the last 24 hours and we’re going to provide a sense of safety and comfort and tolerance and reduce harm and provide resources.”

Anything else I should know? 

Cohen plans to work with the library system and the Maryland Peer Advisory Council to raise the funds necessary to hire more peer counselors and expand services to at least six branches. 

You can read more here.