"One in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition," according to a 2013 national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. "Historically, people have always tried to answer their health questions at home and made personal choices about whether and when to consult a clinician. Many have now added the internet to their personal health toolbox, helping themselves and their loved ones better understand what might be ailing them."
Libraries have become another source of health information to their patrons, providing information on topics such as:
Medical conditions or diseases
Navigating the health insurance marketplace
General physician and hospital information
Book and website recommendations for further reading
This guide provides resources on searching for and presenting health information to patrons.
Please be aware, ALA does not provide medical advice, nor are the materials we provide a substitute for a professional medical opinion.
Books on Providing Health Information in Libraries
Whether you're an administrator or library leader concerned about the health and well-being of your team, or a library worker excited to launch a health and wellness movement in your library, you'll find sensible guidance and inspiration in Newman's handbook. As part of their dedication to improving the lives of their patrons, libraries have long offered services, programs, and outreach dedicated to the health and wellness of their communities. There is a growing recognition that library workers themselves are in urgent need of such attention; low morale, and complaints of burnout and a toxic work environment, are only a few of the obvious symptoms. Newman, who has led a popular course on the subject attended by workers from many types of different libraries, here takes a holistic approach to examine why and how libraries should focus on improving the health and wellness of employees.
Ever since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, public library staff throughout the country have been working hard to provide access to information about the law while educating their communities about how implementation affects them. But defining the expectations and limitations of libraries’ roles regarding support of the new law remains a challenge. This guide, written specifically for library staff, offers best practices, advice, and examples of library responses.
Nearly a quarter of the U.S. population struggles with low literacy--and low health literacy. The inability to read, understand, and effectively utilize health information is linked to higher levels of chronic disease, more frequent emergency room visits, and early mortality. The cost and quality of care implications are enormous, and health literacy is a hot topic for policy makers and researchers--and for libraries struggling to respond to patrons' unmet health information needs.
Over the past decade and a half, free access to computers and the Internet in U.S. public libraries evolved from a rare commodity into a core service. Now, people from all walks of life rely on this service every day to look for jobs, find health care, and read the latest news. This study provides the first large-scale investigation of the ways library patrons use this service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives.
Public libraries can play an important role in supporting library users in their health information seeking efforts. In this book Flaherty shows how to guide library users to high quality health information by relying on up to date, authoritative sources. She also demonstrates why taking the initiative to offer health promotion programming can be a valuable form of community outreach, serving community needs while increasing visibility. Library directors, programming staff, reference librarians, and health educators will all benefit from this book's patron-centered stance.
This work reviews the ways in which the public library can fulfill its role in consumer health information delivery. It will cover assessing community health needs; conducting a health information reference interview; developing and managing a health collection; providing health education programming, developing partnerships with other health information providers; possible funding for a health information service; and using the Internet and online resources for this mission.
Resources on Providing Health Care Information to Patrons
Answering health and medical reference questions can be challenging, as the questions are often sensitive in nature, are asked at what may be a crisis point in a patron’s life, and can involve technical material. Luckily, the RUSA Health and Medical Reference Guidelines were revised in 2015, and provide a basis for discussing best practices and strategies for helping patrons in this area.