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Arlington National Cemetery Fast Facts

CNN Library

(CNN) — Here’s a look at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Facts:
Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) in Arlington, Virginia, contains the remains of more than 400,000 people from the United States and 11 other countries, buried there since the 1860s. More than three million people visit the cemetery annually.

The Arlington estate was originally owned by George Washington Parke Custis, adopted grandson of George Washington. His daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who married Robert E. Lee, inherited the estate. It was abandoned by the Lees during the Civil War and used as headquarters for the Union army. Arlington House (also known as Custis-Lee Mansion) is currently a memorial for Robert E. Lee and run by the National Park Service. Arlington National Cemetery is administered by the Department of the Army.

Nearly 5,000 unknown soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The cemetery has the second-largest number of people buried of any national cemetery in the US. Calverton National Cemetery, on Long Island, near Farmingdale, New York, is the largest. Burial in Arlington is generally limited to active, retired and former members of the armed forces, Medal of Honor recipients, high-ranking federal government officials and their dependents.

Funerals are normally conducted six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Arlington averages 27 to 30 funerals, including interments and inurnments, each weekday, and six to eight services on Saturdays. The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last funeral each day. The partial remains of the seven astronauts who died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, are buried at the cemetery.

The seven Columbia astronauts have their own memorial at Arlington, near the one for the Challenger. As a living tribute, there are 36 Memorial Trees for Medal of Honor recipients. Annually, just prior to Memorial Day weekend, the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) places American flags before the gravestones and niches of service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery and the US Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery.

The cemetery has armed guards stationed throughout the grounds. Visitors to the cemetery are required to enter through one of four access points: the cemetery’s main entrance on Memorial Avenue, the Ord & Weitzel Gate, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Old Post Chapel Gate, and the Service Complex Gate off of Colombia Pike. Visitors undergo security screenings and random ID checks.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:
The Tomb of the Unknowns (aka Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) has never been officially named. It is a memorial to the dead of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The Tomb is made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 tons. The Tomb was completed in 1932, at a cost of $48,000. The tomb has the following words inscribed: Here rests in honored glory An American Soldier Known but to God.

The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, everyday of the year, by volunteer members of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), in full dress uniform carrying M-14 rifles. Timeline:
May 13, 1864 – The first military burial takes place at Arlington Estate. Pvt. William H. Christman of the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry is buried. June 15, 1864 – Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs designates Arlington House and its surrounding 200 acres as a Union military cemetery.

1882 – George Washington Custis Lee sues the government for taking over the land. The US Supreme Court rules that the federal government was trespassing.

March 3, 1883 – Congress purchases the land for $150,000. May 15, 1920 – Memorial Amphitheater is dedicated.

1921 – The Tomb of the Unknowns is established for an unknown soldier of World War I. April 6, 1948 – The 3rd US Infantry begins guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns 24 hours a day.

May 14, 1998 – Through DNA testing, the Vietnam era Unknown Soldier’s identity is established as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie who died near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. His remains are returned to his family and this particular crypt remains empty.

2002 – Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), now recognized as “active duty designees,” can now have their ashes buried at the cemetery with full military honors. November 13, 2009 – Secretary of the Army John McHugh orders the inspector general to conduct an inspection of the record keeping operations in the cemetery. June 2010 – The Army’s investigation reveals missing burial records, unmarked graves and burial urns put in a spillage pile, where dirt dug up for gravesites is left. Longtime Superintendent John C. Metzler is reprimanded. He is able to keep his job until his retirement date of July 2, 2010.

July 14, 2010 – The cemetery announces that Thurman Higginbotham, second-in-command at Arlington, filed paperwork in the previous week to retire retroactive to July 2, 2010. He had been placed on administrative leave in June pending disciplinary review for improper handling of burial records, and was accused of botching dozens of contracts. July 29, 2010 – Senator Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of an oversight panel on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee, says that her investigation of the cemetery has revealed that between 4,900 and 6,600 graves may be unmarked or mislabeled on cemetery maps. December 2010 – The Army launches the first criminal investigation into the misplacement of remains at Arlington National Cemetery after discovering the cremated remains of eight people dumped in a single grave site.

December 22, 2010 – President Barack Obama signs into law bill S. 3860, which will hold the Secretary of the Army accountable to Congress on Arlington National Cemetery’s ability to identify and fix errors in the burial records for gravesites. December 23, 2011 – According to the Army Inspector General’s report, of the 259,978 graves audited, 195,748 were checked. The consequences are that in 64,230 cases, the information on the headstones is incorrect when compared to the paper or electronic records. January 25, 2012-January 26, 2012 – Following a congressional hearing regarding contracting oversight, a Homeland Security & Government Affairs subcommittee investigates a media report of $12 million dollars in funds missing from the ANC. The following day, the subcommittee states that the ANC is not missing the funds, as has been reported. The “reconciliation of prior year financial transactions” and a switch to a new Army business system are the reasons for the lack of transparency.

January 26, 2012 – Former Marine Corps reservist Yonathan Melaku is sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to desecrate graves at the cemetery.

2012 – Arlington seeks designation as a historic district on the National Register. The entire process takes up to a year. April 11, 2014 – The National Park Service lists the Arlington National Cemetery Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. June 15, 2014 – The 150th anniversary of the cemetery.

July 17, 2014 – Philanthropist and billionaire David M. Rubenstein donates $12.35 million to the National Park Foundation to improve access to Arlington House and restore the slave quarters and grounds.

2015 – McHugh reverses the 2002 policy that previously permitted the ashes of women who served as pilots during World War II, in the WASP program, to be buried at the cemetery with full military honors. May 20, 2016 – President Obama signs a bill into law once again allowing the ashes of WW II WASPs to be laid to rest at the military cemetery. Buried at Arlington:
President William Howard Taft
President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
Senators and brothers Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy
Chief Justices Earl Warren, Warren Burger and William Rehnquist
General George C. Marshall
Margariette Higgins, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent
Dashiell Hammett, author and veteran of both World War I and II
Spotswood Poles, baseball player in the Negro Leagues
Audie Murphy, actor and most decorated US soldier of World War II
Glenn Miller, noted composer and big band leader, has a headstone as his body was never recovered after a plane crash in World War II
James Parks, a former Arlington Estate slave and gravedigger, he is the only person buried in Arlington National Cemetery who was born on the property
Anita Newcomb McGee, the first female Army surgeon and founder of the Army Nurse Corps
Walter Reed, pioneering bacteriologist
Astronauts Lt. Col. Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom and Lt. Cmdr. Roger B. Chaffee, killed at Cape Canaveral, Florida in a fire aboard their Apollo spacecraft. They are buried next to one another
Sgt. Mark Matthews, the oldest living of the Buffalo Soldiers, 111 years old in 2005
Medgar Evers, murdered civil rights leader
Thurgood Marshall, first African-American Supreme Couwt justice
Joe Louis, former boxing heavyweight champion of the world
Lee Marvin, actor and World War II veteran
Pierre Charles L’Enfant, architect and designer of the city of Washington
John Glenn, former senator and astronaut

TM & 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Ocean City Maryland News

Theft Scheme Alleged

OCEAN CITY Two Washington, D.C. area residents were arrested on theft scheme charges after Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were able to connect them to a rash of vehicle break-ins. Around 7 p.m. last Thursday, OCPD officers were dispatched to the area of 4th Street for a reported theft of wallets from a vehicle in a nearby parking garage. The victim told police her wallet containing her driver s license, social security card and debit card, along with her daughter s wallet containing $300 had been stolen from her Jeep.

Ocean City Maryland News

Aitana Garrison

Ocean City Maryland News

OCPD officers watched the video surveillance footage from the parking garage and observed two suspects later identified as Aitana Garrison, 20, of Laurel, Md., and Michael Allen, 27, of College Park, enter the parking garage several hours earlier and begin pulling door handles to check for unlocked vehicles. When the two suspects reached the victim s Jeep, they found the door to be unlocked and went inside the vehicle for about a minute before exiting. The two suspects left the parking garage, but returned a short time later and got into a gray Toyota Scion and left the area. A short time later, OCPD officers located the Toyota Scion in a parking lot and noticed it had a parking pass for the Tidelands Hotel nearby and that the pass had a room number on it.

The officers checked with the hotel clerk to seek if the suspects had rented a hotel room and learned the parking pass found in the Toyota had been reported stolen from a Dodge Durango around 10 a.m. that morning. Also stolen from the Dodge was a suiting containing all of the victim s clothing along with a jacket valued at $200.

Ocean City Maryland News

Michael Allen

OCPD officers broadcasted a description of Garrison and Allen and they were located on the Boardwalk near Dorchester Street a short time later. When officers approached the suspects, Allen reportedly put his hands in the air and told police he had not done anything and that they could search him. When officers searched Allen, they found a stack of credit and debit cards on his person that did not belong to him. At that point, Garrison and Allen were placed under arrest for theft. According to police reports, Allen initially told police he had found the credit cards, but when he was presented with a still photo taken from the video footage in the parking garage, he said Yeah, I did some dumb [expletive deleted]. The officers went back to the hotel parking lot where the suspects vehicle had been found and a K-9 scan revealed the presence of drugs. A subsequent search of the property revealed more stolen credit cards, at least four pairs of shoes that had been reported stolen from multiple victims and other stolen property. OCPD officers made contact with each of the victims and collected a list of items that had been reported stolen and each was found on the suspects or in their vehicle. Garrison and Allen were charged with theft scheme from $1,000 to under $10,000.

Loaded Handgun In Vehicle

OCEAN CITY A Pennsylvania man was arrested on weapons charges last weekend after Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers found a loaded handgun in a vehicle in which he was sleeping. Around 5:30 a.m. last Saturday, OCPD officers on patrol in the area of Wilmington Lane observed a vehicle parked on the street with its headlights on and the engine running. Officers approached the vehicle and observed Rahean Kelley, 19, of Reading, Pa., asleep in the driver s seat. When officers approached Kelley, they detected the strong odor of raw marijuana coming from the passenger compartment. A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up a loaded .22 caliber handgun in the glove compartment. When asked if he had a permit to carry the handgun, Kelley told police it wasn t even his, according to police reports.

Kelley was arrested at that point and charged with possession of a handgun in a vehicle. Upon further investigation, officers determined Kelley had two previous drug convictions in the last year which qualified another charge of illegal possession of a regulated firearm. In addition, it was learned Kelley was on probation for robbery, which added an additional charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Suspect Hits Officer, Flees

OCEAN CITY A Reisterstown man was arrested on assault and other charges last week after allegedly striking an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer who was attempting to question him about marijuana possession before fleeing the scene on foot. Around 4:30 p.m. last Thursday, an OCPD officer was on bike patrol in the area of St. Louis Avenue and 6th Street when he observed a group of young men walking down 6th Street and detected the strong odor of burnt marijuana. The officer approached the group and they began to separate and scatter. The officer observed one of the suspects, identified as Matthew Lester, 19, of Reisterstown, move away furtively as if he was trying to conceal something in his pocket. The officer detained Lester and recovered a plastic Baggie containing marijuana. The officer asked for Lester s identification in order to issue him a citation for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana and Lester got out his wallet, but when the officer reached for the identification, Lester allegedly struck him and fled on foot.

Lester fled through a construction site and jumped over a fence onto private property with the property owner sitting on his porch observing. Lester than dashed into St. Louis Avenue and was nearly struck by multiple cars that had to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting him. The OCPD officer eventually caught up with Lester and placed him under arrest for assault, disturbing the peace and trespassing.

Disorderly Conduct, Drugs

OCEAN CITY A Harrisburg, Pa. man was arrested on disorderly conduct and drug charges last weekend after allegedly causing a scene on different occasions in the midtown area before being found with cocaine and pills. Around 11 a.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were dispatched to a fast-food restaurant inside a convenience store in the area of 52nd Street for a report of a suspicious male. The complainant told police the suspect entered the restroom and had been making statements about killing people. The caller was afraid because the suspect was carrying a backpack that appeared to be heavy, according to police reports. The suspect, later identified as Timothy Witmer, 26, of Harrisburg, had been in the restroom for about 15 minutes, according to police reports. An OCPD officer on the scene had an earlier contact with Witmer on a previous call for service when he was dispatched to the area of 57th Street to check on an individual having a medical issue. The OCPD officer located Witmer rolling around in the grass and complaining of severe pain as he attempted to put a bandage on his foot he claimed was broken. The officer contacted Ocean City EMS, but Witmer refused medical attention. According to police reports, Witmer s behavior was strange during that incident, but he ultimately committed no crime and was allowed to walk away.

When OCPD officers responded to the fast-food restaurant at 52nd Street, they were unable to locate Witmer. Another OCPD officer responding to the scene observed Witmer walking aggressively north on the sidewalk and he appeared to be talking to himself. As a man with a young child approached him, walking in the opposite direction, Witmer allegedly raised his arms in a threatening manner, but did not strike the man or the child. At that point, the OCPD officer took Witmer into custody for disorderly conduct. A search of his person revealed a baggie of powder cocaine in his pants pocket. Two larger bags of powder cocaine were located in Witmer s backpack. Also located in Witmer s backpack were 15 tablets identified as Clonazepam. Witmer was charged with disorderly conduct and possession of cocaine and Clonazepam, a controlled dangerous substance.

Two Arrested For Air Show Disturbance

OCEAN CITY Two men were arrested for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct last weekend after allegedly causing a scene on a crowded Boardwalk during the OC Air Show. Around 2:40 p.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers and officers from allied law enforcement agencies were dispatched to the area of 15th Street and the Boardwalk for a report of two males acting disorderly. An OCPD officer arrived on the scene and observed two men talking to a security guard hired by the Air Show. The officer approached the men and asked if everything was okay when one of them, identified as Joseph Barnes, 20, of Brookeville, Md., allegedly launched into an expletive-laced tirade on the officers in front of a large crowd watching the air show including families with young children. The officer told Barnes to calm down, but Barnes allegedly continued his expletive- and racial slur-laced rant against the officers.

At that point, the OCPD officer attempted to place Barnes under arrest, but he began to run away before stopping and raising his arms in the air and challenging the officer to fight him. The OCPD officer and a Worcester County Sheriff s deputy tackled Barnes and placed him in handcuffs. During the struggle, the Sheriff s deputy suffered a possible broken nose and was transported to the hospital. Minutes after Barnes was arrested, his companion, identified as Nicholas Terry, 20, of Damascus, Md., began to scream and yell expletives and racial slurs at the arresting officers in front of hundreds of people enjoying the air show. Terry was also arrested and charged with disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.

Scrapping With Bar Security

OCEAN CITY A Silver Spring, Md. man was arrested on assault and other charges last weekend after allegedly scrapping with security staff at a nightclub. Around 1:20 a.m. last Saturday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were patrolling in the area of Seacrets when they saw bar security staff wrestling with a man later identified as Gerardo Deleon, 21, of Silver Spring, on the ground in front of the establishment. Several security staffers were attempting to control Deleon as he continued to be aggressive and combative. When the OCPD officers arrived, the bar staff began to get off of Deleon one by one until the supervisor was the only one still holding him.

When Deleon had calmed down, the supervisor let him up, but once Deleon was standing, he lunged at the supervisor and attempted to strike him. OCPD officers wrestled Deleon to the ground and took him into custody for assault and intoxicated endangerment.

Jail Time For Joy Ride

OCEAN CITY An Ocean City man, arrested on drunk-driving and auto theft charges in February after swiping a vehicle and taking it for a joy ride before crashing into gas pumps at north-end convenience store, pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to a year in jail, all but 20 days of which was suspended. Around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were patrolling in the area of the 7-Eleven store at 119th Street when they observed a 2002 Toyota Camry with no lights on make a U-turn and strike a steel gasoline pump support pole at a high rate of speed. The officers reportedly saw smoke and debris emanating from the vehicle and debris emanating from the vehicle. The officers observed the front end of the vehicle was heavily damaged and was embedded in the steel support pole for the gas pumps. Fluids were leaking from the engine compartment and the officers noted in the report if had not been for the pole, the vehicle would have struck the gas pump. A large trash can was also damaged. Because of the fluids leaking from the vehicle and the close proximity to the gas pumps, the Ocean City Fire Department and EMS were dispatched to the scene.

OCPD officers observed the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, identified as Leon Harvey, 31, of Ocean City emerge from the driver s seat as he stumbled and exhibited poor balance. According to police reports, Harvey said I was just going for a joy ride. OCPD officers made contact with Harvey, who exhibited signs of intoxication, according to police reports. Harvey was bleeding from the mouth and was evaluated by EMTs, but refused transport to a medical facility. According to police reports, officers asked Harvey to do pre-screening and field sobriety tests, but he refused to cooperate. At that point, Harvey was arrested for driving under the influence, driving a motor vehicle without a required license or authorization and driving while suspended. He was taken to the Public Safety Building where he refused to submit to an alcohol concentration test, stating it would not help him and he wasn t that drunk. According to police reports, he also said he messed up his life and that his life was over, and that he only took the car for a joy ride and knew he should not be driving.

OCPD officers interviewed the vehicle s owner who said he left it parked in front of the 7-11 with the engine running while he went inside the 7-11 store. While in the store, the owner said he heard a loud bang and looked outside to observe his vehicle crashed into the steel pole near the gas pumps with Harvey getting out of the driver s seat. The victim told police Harvey did not have permission to drive the vehicle and unlawful motor vehicle taking charges were also tacked on.

Last week, Harvey pleaded guilty to unlawful removal of property and driving under the influence and was sentenced to one year in jail, all but 20 days of which were suspended.

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Saving Lives in the Stacks

Saving Lives In The Stacks

On June 1, the Philadelphia Inquirer[1] broke the news that the Free Library of Philadelphia s McPherson Square Branch had a serious problem with opioid use among patrons. By June 3, everybody from the Washington Post[2] to National Public Radio[3] (NPR) had picked up the story.

As this nation s opioid crisis has exploded, the staff at the public library have become first responders, NPR s Scott Simon told listeners. And I gather the librarians there have been obliged to become involved in a way that well, become involved in a way librarians aren t usually asked to become involved. What Simon didn t say but what librarians far and wide know is that the McPherson Square branch is just one of many American libraries struggling with opioid-related issues such as discarded, contaminated needles; drug use in the library itself; and even on-site overdoses and fatalities. Libraries from California to Colorado, Pennsylvania to Missouri, are finding themselves on the front lines of a battle they never anticipated fighting. Of course, opiate use isn t limited to libraries. Neither is anyone claiming that the problem is more severe in libraries than it is anywhere else. Still, the fact that libraries are open to all, offer relative anonymity, and generally allow patrons to stay as long as they like make them uniquely vulnerable to those seeking a place to use drugs.

It s just like: What is going on? How can we stem this tide? says Kim Fender, director of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH).

A life at stake

In 2015, more Americans died from drug overdose than from car accidents and gun homicides combined[4], and more than six out of 10[5] of those overdoses involved an opioid. Preliminary data for 2016 suggests that drug overdose deaths for that year rose by about 19%[6] the largest annual increase the United States has ever seen. Among the opioids used illegally are heroin; prescription pain medications such as oxycodone; fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine; and carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Kitty Yancheff doesn t know exactly which opiate caused the overdose of the patron she encountered in the Humboldt County (Calif.) Library in Eureka last year. She just knows that without her intervention, he would almost certainly have died.

After noticing a man at a table near the reference desk who seemed to be sleeping, Yancheff, the library s public service division manager, tried to rouse him, first with words and then by banging on the table and his chair. As I m doing this, I noticed that he was sweating profusely, really dripping, she tells AL. He had mucus coming out of his nose, and his breathing was kind of gurgly, and his lips were blue, so I figured he was having an overdose. (The World Health Organization states that an opiate overdose can be identified by three symptoms: pinpoint pupils, unconsciousness, and respiratory depression.)

As another staff member called 911, Yancheff grabbed a dose of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opiate overdose, and administered it to the man via injection in his thigh, through his clothing. (The local public health department had recently given the library a supply of Narcan and trained staff in its use.) When he didn t respond, she followed protocol by giving him a second dose, at which point his eyelids began to flutter. A few minutes later, the paramedics arrived. The man survived, though Yancheff hasn t seen him since.

It was surreal, Yancheff says. But I think to not have the Narcan, and sit idly by and watch someone die, would have been even worse.

To stock Narcan, or not

It s not clear how many libraries have joined Humboldt County Library in making Narcan available and training staff in its use. Among those who have is Denver Public Library s Central branch, which began stocking Narcan earlier this year after a homeless patron overdosed and died in the library s bathroom from a combination of heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs. The library bought 12 Narcan kits in February. By May, it had used seven of them.

We have 13 staff members who are trained to use it our two social workers and then 11 security staff, explains Rachel Fewell, central library administrator. The library stocks a nasal-spray form of Narcan, rather than the injectable version. It s noninvasive, and there s a clear protocol around it. It costs us $75 per kit. If you can save somebody s life for $75, let s do it. But what if Narcan is mistakenly administered to someone who hasn t actually overdosed? It s not going to have any negative impact, Fewell explains. All it does is block opioids from hitting receptors in the brain, so even if you incorrectly use it on someone, there s no negative side to it. In addition, Narcan itself is not addictive, so libraries need not worry about any potential for abuse.

To the argument that administering Narcan falls outside the library s mission, Fewell responds: This is definitely scope creep for us, but we re the de facto day shelter for Denver. If that s how the city is going to see us, I d rather my staff has tools to deal with it. Yancheff agrees. Not stocking Narcan does not mean that that s going to keep folks [who use opioids] away, she points out. Some people are concerned that if you stock it, they re going to know they can come in there and overdose and know you ll be able to revive them. Personally, I don t believe that s the case. I just see it as a resource similar to CPR, just another thing in our first-aid resource kit. While other libraries consider whether to follow Denver s and Humboldt County s example regarding Narcan, some are resorting to other strategies, many of which center on library restrooms.

Needle Safety in the Library

By Roger A. Donaldson II

Whether discarded needles are found inside or outside the library facility, staff must be aware of their dangers and dispose of them safely. Conduct walkarounds in your facility at least once per day to look for discarded needles, and do not put your hands in trash cans or other areas in which you can t see what you re touching. If your facility crushes trash to conserve trash bags, use an object to do so, rather than your hands. Consider providing a sharps container in the restrooms for proper disposal of needles. Some sources recommend using tongs or other grabbing devices to pick up a discarded needle, but this may cause the needle to flick or fall, injuring yourself or others.

If you find a discarded needle:

  • Make sure to keep other people especially children away.
  • Don thin, disposable latex gloves.
  • Bring a container to the needle (rather than the other way around). The container should be sealable, with rigid, puncture-proof walls. These containers can be purchased through Amazon and other retailers; you can also consult your county health department. Do not use glass bottles for this purpose, as they can break.
  • Put the container on a stable surface, rather than holding it in your hand.
  • Make sure that you can clearly see the needle and your hands.
  • If you see more than one needle together, use a stick or similar object to separate them, and handle only one at a time.
  • Pick up the needle from the blunt end, avoiding the sharp point. Do not attempt to re-cap it.
  • Place the needle in the container and seal it.
  • Discard the gloves and wash your hands immediately.

Sharps containers should be discarded according to your local regulations. Some cities require the sharps containers to be placed with regular trash pickup in a visible manner, so that garbage collectors can handle the container safely. Other cities require sharps containers to be dropped off at the county health department or another designated point. Call your local health department or law enforcement department for information on proper disposal. If a needle-stick injury occurs, stay calm, and wash the area with soap and water as soon as possible. Apply antiseptic and a bandage, contact your supervisor, and promptly seek medical treatment.

ROGER A. DONALDSON II, CPLS, is IT administrator and technical services supervisor at Jackson (Ohio) City Library.

Keeping restrooms safe for all

It is unavoidable that people are going to use drugs in public bathrooms, says Dr. Alex Walley, director of the Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program at Boston Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. The sooner that libraries accept that and try to prepare for it, the better off they re going to be. Philadelphia s McPherson branch has certainly accepted it. In May, after the branch experienced several overdoses, it began requiring patrons who wanted to use the bathroom to show identification.

That proved to be too much for the circulation desk to keep track of, says Judi Moore, the branch s library supervisor and children s librarian. So the library partnered with a local nonprofit, which now supplies volunteer bathroom monitors who sit by the bathroom door, take identification, and time people. If a person hasn t emerged from the bathroom after five minutes, a security guard knocks on the door. Since the new rules have been implemented, no overdoses have occurred in the branch s bathrooms.

The main branch of PLCH has experienced an astonishing number of overdoses in the past year about 50, or slightly fewer than one a week. As Fender points out, that s a relatively small number compared with the million-plus visits the branch gets each year, but it s still obviously a behavior we don t want in any way to continue. Because the branch is located extremely close to a fire station, which is the first to respond to 911 calls of any nature, the library has chosen not to stock Narcan, Fender says: They can get here very, very quickly. Instead, the library has taken measures such as having its 20-member security staff patrol bathrooms more often. Just having people walking in certainly helps deter any kinds of behaviors someone might do in a bathroom that you wouldn t want, she says. We had originally proposed closing off some of the restrooms, but building code requires a certain number of male and female toilets because of our occupancy. If the tide of overdoses doesn t ebb, she adds, the library will likely consider turning to Narcan. What other strategies can libraries consider to discourage drug use in restrooms? In the past, some institutions have installed blue lights in bathrooms, with the idea that doing so makes it more difficult for users of intravenous drugs to find a vein to inject. Per Walley, the physician at Boston Medical, this strategy is unwise. The worst-case scenario is that someone tries to use despite that lighting and hits an artery, so then there s pulsing blood in the bathroom, he says.

Instead, he recommends increasing bathroom monitoring, particularly for single-user bathrooms. One strategy is to keep the bathroom locked so that patrons have to ask for the key at the front desk. If the key hasn t come back after a short period of time, a security guard or other worker can be dispatched to check the bathroom. Another is to install an intercom and require bathroom users to respond through it when checked on. Steve Albrecht, a trainer and security consultant who has taught library security workshops for nearly 20 years, and who is the author of Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities[7] (ALA Editions, 2015), has another suggestion: I like camera systems. He s not talking about video cameras in the bathroom itself, of course, but rather just outside it, along with signs noting that the area is under video surveillance. Banks still get robbed even though they have cameras, but it s a good deterrent, he says. Walley also recommends installing secure needle-disposal boxes in the bathroom. Otherwise, he says people will put their needles down the toilet. Indeed, Philadelphia s McPherson branch was forced to close for a few days earlier this year after its bathroom pipes were clogged with needles. The branch has since installed sharps containers.

And if the bathroom is especially small, the library should make sure that its door opens outward rather than inward. There have been cases where people have overdosed and fallen against the door and blocked the door so it can t be opened, Walley says. I imagine most libraries are ADA-compliant, so you wouldn t have that situation, but if you do, that s relatively easy to fix.

Hope on the horizon?

When and whether the opioid crisis will end is anything but clear. Preliminary data for 2017 indicates that the tide of drug deaths has yet to turn. Still, there are some signs of hope. The Federal Drug Administration recently asked[8] drug company Endo Pharmaceuticals to take the powerful medication Opana ER off the market, a move interpreted by some[9] as a sign that the agency is ramping up its efforts against the abuse of prescription opioids. And some states, including New York[10] and Maryland[11], have passed legislation aimed at combating the crisis, such as by making Narcan more widely available, requiring physicians who prescribe opioids to prescribe the lowest effective dose, or allowing prosecutors to seek longer prison sentences for drug dealers who knowingly sell fentanyl.

But until the opioid war has been won, libraries will surely continue to find themselves on its front lines. As Fender says: We re all struggling together.

Facts About Narcan

  • Narcan is the brand name of a drug called naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose by preventing the opioid from reaching the brain.
  • If Narcan is given to someone who is not experiencing overdose, nothing will happen; there is no potential for harm. In addition, it is not possible to overdose on Narcan.
  • Narcan is available both as an injection and as a nasal spray. It works within two to eight minutes.
  • Libraries that stock Narcan typically administer it in conjunction with a call to professional emergency services (911).
  • For more information on Narcan, visit[12] or[13].


  1. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer (
  2. ^ Washington Post (
  3. ^ National Public Radio (
  4. ^ from car accidents and gun homicides combined (
  5. ^ more than six out of 10 (
  6. ^ about 19% (
  7. ^ Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities (
  8. ^ recently asked (
  9. ^ interpreted by some (
  10. ^ New York (
  11. ^ Maryland (
  12. ^ (
  13. ^ (