The same qualities that make libraries ideal for studying and reading — unfettered public access, quiet corners and nooks, minimal interaction with other people — also make them appealing places to shoot up heroin, librarians are finding.
In Norfolk, Virginia, a 47-year-old man died after a patron found him in a library restroom. In Batesville, Indiana, and New Brunswick, New Jersey, police revived others in library restrooms using a popular overdose antidote.
The body of a homeless man who frequented the Oak Park Public Library in suburban Chicago might have been there for days, fully clothed and slumped on the toilet in a restroom on the quiet third floor, before a maintenance worker unlocked it on a Monday morning in April and discovered his inglorious demise. The empty syringe and lighter in his pockets and the cut soda can in the trash pointed to the cause, an accidental heroin overdose.
“On both a personal and a professional level, we were all very shocked and of course worried about how this could happen in our spaces,” said executive director David Seleb, who fired the security company responsible for clearing the library before closing.