Public libraries are central to any healthy, robust community.  

They are destinations for education, entertainment, social activities, resources and services for all ages. Public libraries are trusted organizations that provide access to many important community services, free of charge. They often partner with other agencies to bring specialized services and critical information to their residents. 

As an example, the Santa Clara County Library District is hosting programs on health issues this summer specifically around access to mental health and addressing the opioid crisis.  

These priorities are in line with those of new Santa Clara County Executive James Williams and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and are offered in partnership with other organizations that bring expertise and resources to library spaces.  

Santa Clara County, like many places across the U.S., has seen an increase in overdose deaths as a result of opioid use this year.  

To educate the public to better understand how to assist in the case of an overdose, the SCCLD has scheduled presentations with Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services Department at each of its community libraries.  

Attendees will learn how to recognize the symptoms of an opioid overdose and receive training on how to administer a nasal spray form of naloxone, which if given quickly can save a life. They also will then receive a free kit of Narcan, the commercial name of the medication, while supplies last.  

A county website,, offers more information about the dangers of fentanyl and other types of opioids.  

For more information about International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug, 31, visit

Opioid workshops are at the following locations this month: Gilroy Library at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 and at 1 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 30 with Spanish translation; the Campbell Express Library at 7 p.m. Aug. 17, Los Altos Library at 11 a.m. Aug. 31; Saratoga Library at 11 a.m. Aug. 30 and at 1 p.m. Sept. 9. 

The Biden Administration has made improving access to mental health services a top priority, citing a statistic that among the one in five Americans with a mental health condition, only half of them receive treatment.  

The percentage is even smaller for those dealing with challenges around substance abuse. Here in Santa Clara County, an estimated 340,000 adults live with a mental illness.  

To help empower residents to better advocate for their needs as well as for family and other loved ones, SCCLD,the County of Santa Clara Health System, National Alliance on Mental Illness Santa Clara County, and Bay Area Legal Aid are offering programs on how to access local mental health services from private and public providers.

The presentations will help people learn how to get care they need while limiting paperwork and high costs.   

The Milpitas Library hosts a session on getting mental health assistance at 6 p.m. Aug. 21, The Gilroy Library’s session is at 6 p.m. on Aug. 30 and the Los Altos Library session is at 11 a.m. Sept. 20. 

The find out more about these and other community events, go to

Clare Varesio is a library services manager with the Santa Clara County Library District. She oversees organizational development and partnerships, including Bookmobile and outreach services. Previously, she was the community librarian at the Cupertino Library.