The Seattle Public Library will now allow its workers to carry and administer naloxone, a drug that rapidly reverses opioid overdoses, officials said Wednesday.

The new policy is the result of a review prompted by library staff expressing interest in being able to administer the lifesaving drug amid an increase in King County opioid overdoses.

Washington overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids doubled from 2019 to 2020 and increased by 50% in King County, according to the state Department of Health. Preliminary data points to another increase in 2021.

Deaths linked to opioid overdoses are increasing across all groups but growing fastest among Black, Hispanic, Native American and Alaska Native people, according to the health agency.

Health officials urge public to carry naloxone as WA overdose deaths climb at ‘alarming’ rate

Officials have already ordered naloxone doses, which will be put into first-aid kits only staff can access, and will soon begin training staff who volunteer to administer the drug.


There is “no guarantee” someone who overdoses on library grounds will receive the medicine, as its availability across different branches will depend on volunteer staff, library officials said.

King County and city health officials in 2019 distributed naloxone kits to bars and nightclubs — and trained employees how to use it. Health officials have urged Washingtonians to carry at least two doses of naloxone, which comes as an injectable or nasal spray.

Washington has a standing order allowing pharmacists to dispense the medicine to anyone who faces risks of an opioid-related overdose or is in a position to help people at risk.

The state Department of Health outlines steps to recognize and prevent overdoses on its website. Other resources are available on