Imagine the Possibilities

Concurrent Program Session

The Opioid Epidemic: How Can My Library Help?

Friday, March 23, 2018, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 114

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of the 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and synthetic opioids, with over 20,000 overdose deaths. Every community is affected by this epidemic. Libraries are addressing this crisis through education, collaboration, and even first response. A panel of library workers in various roles will share ideas, resources, and specific actions for libraries supporting their communities in crisis.

At the end of this session, participants will:

1: Recognize the various responses to the national opioid crisis implemented by public libraries 2: Determine best practices in interacting with patrons in crisis and direct intervention in overdose situations 3: Gain strategies for working with community agencies and partners in addressing opioid abuse

The session organizer(s) identified this session as appropriate for:
Level 2: People with some knowledge, who want to increase their understanding.

This session will have: Medium interaction (example: single speaker/panel with questions or discussion throughout)

Track: Lead

Tags: Leadership, Hot Topics, Leadership, Outreach Services, Social Change, Transforming Libraries, Trends and Forecasting


Travis Bautz, Director
MidPointe Library System , Middletown , OH

Travis has worked in libraries (academic and public) for over 20 years, including head librarian at Greene County Public Library and director of the Wright Memorial Public Library in Oakwood, Ohio. Ohio's opioid deaths per capita are the third highest in the country, and Butler County is the third highest in the state. Last June, Middletown had already tallied 600 opioid overdoses, which is more than it saw in all of 2016.

Elissa Hardy, LCSW, Community Resource Manager
Denver Public Library , Denver , CO

Elissa Hardy, LCSW is the Community Resource Manager at Denver Public Library and oversees the social work department which includes one other social worker and 4 peer navigators. She provides training to library staff, collaborates with community partners and the team supports customers experiencing life challenges. She also teaches courses on Policy, Mental Health, Substance Use, Trauma and Recovery at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver.

Tamara King, Community Relations Director
Richland Library , Columbia , SC

Tamara King is the Community Relations Director for Richland Library. In her role, she is tasked with developing, directing and implementing communications strategies to key stakeholders and audiences of Richland Library. Tamara also supervises the Office of Development, which supports the Richland Library Friends and Foundation along with the library volunteer program. She has nearly two decades of experience in broadcast television, public relations, marketing, strategic communications, media and crisis communication training and program management.

Chera Kowalski
Free Library of Philadelphia , Philadelphia , PA

Chera Kowalski and Judith Moore, from the McPherson Square Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia, were featured on national media in 2017 due to their direct intervention with Narcan on overdose victims who frequent the park in front of the library building.

Michelle Jeske, City Librarian
Denver Public Library , Denver , CO

Michelle is the Denver City Librarian. She has served in different positions at Denver Public Library including director of Collections, Technology and Innovation and manager of Web Information Services and the Community Technology Center. Prior to the Denver Public Library, Jeske worked for the TCL CARL Corporation, San Antonio Public Library and New York Public Library. Her honors include Public Library Association Leadership Fellow, Colorado Librarian of the Year and Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

For questions about…

Cancellation Policy

The PLA 2018 Conference is offered on a cost-recovery basis. PLA reserves the right to cancel all or any part of this event if there is insufficient registration or for other reasons. Neither ALA nor PLA is responsible for cancellation charges assessed by the airlines or travel agencies, or other losses incurred due to the cancellation of the workshops. All information listed on this website is subject to change.

Attendee Cancellation Policy

Written cancellations, requests for refunds, and/or changes will be accepted until February 23, 2018, and are subject to a $30 handling fee. Refunds will be processed after April 23, 2018. According to PLA policy, all meal events require preregistration. The above cancellation/change information also applies to all preconferences, meal events, and tours. No meal tickets will be sold onsite.

Exhibitor Cancellation Policy

All booth space cancellation requests must be received in writing by Show Management (Corcoran Expositions). If space is reduced, the net reduction of space will be treated as a cancellation of that space. If Show Management receives a written request for cancellation of space on or before October 31, 2017, the exhibitor will be eligible for a refund less the nonrefundable deposit of $950 per 100 square feet of exhibit space. For cancellations received after October 31, 2017, exhibitors are liable for 100% of the cost of space.


Print and electronic advertising opportunities are available to reach PLA members and attendees both before and during the conference.


Interested in exhibiting at PLA 2018? Contact Carly DiVito, Corcoran Expositions, at 312-541-0567 or


Contact Macey Morales, Deputy Director, ALA Public Awareness Office, 312-280-4393 or Please review our conference media policy.


ALA and PLA membership is managed by the ALA Membership & Customer Service (MACS) unit. You can join or renew/rejoin/add to your membership using ALA’s secure online form; or you can print and fill out a membership form and fax or mail it in; or call 800-545-2433 and press 5. Direct your membership questions to MACS at or 800-545-2433 and press 5. MACS representatives are available Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Central.

Registration & Housing

Problems or questions regarding registration or housing? Contact Experient at or 800-424-5249 (U.S. and Canada)/847-996-5829 (all other countries). Experient representatives are available Monday–Friday, 9:00 AM–6:00 PM Eastern.


To discuss PLA 2018 sponsorship opportunities, contact Corcoran Expositions, Mary Michalik at 312-265-9650,; or Matt McLaughlin at 312-265-9655,

Thank You PLA 2018 Conference Sponsors!

Other Questions

Many commonly asked questions are answered in our FAQ. If you don’t find the information you’re looking for, please contact PLA at 800-545-2433 x5PLA (x5752) or Or the PLA Staff directory may help you find just the right person to ask.

PLA 2016 Archive

Looking for handouts and other information from the PLA 2016 Conference, which took place April 5–9, 2016 in Denver, CO? The PLA 2016 Conference website has been archived at

View the list of past PLA Conferences from 1983 to present.