Metal detectors, social workers and naloxone: how Canadian libraries are responding to communities in crisis

“The public library is the community’s living room.”

Why It Matters

Libraries are increasingly having to deal with complex social issues such as homelessness, poverty and addiction as Canada’s existing safety nets strain under the weight of pandemic fall-out and austerity. However, libraries aren’t prepared to become a catch-all solution for systemic problems.

WINNIPEG/TREATY 1 — Two armed police officers, thumbs jammed under their bulletproof vests, watch people queue at an airport-style metal detector as private security guards poke through bags with yellow sticks; from somewhere above a man yells “fascists” at the scene below.

Welcome to Winnipeg’s Millennium Library.

“I don’t like this at all. I’m only here because my mom asked me to pick something up. I don’t want to come back,” says Susan Plett before joining the line. “It really seems like too much.”

Another man, who doesn’t speak English, stops in front of signs detailing the library’s security procedures, then turns around and leaves. When similar security measures were imposed in 2019, annual visits fel

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