Public Library Association, National Network of Libraries of Medicine announce Promoting Healthy Communities initiative

CHICAGO — Access to current and reliable health information is imperative for the well-being of all Americans, and public libraries are frequently a go-to resource as people navigate complex issues of health care, insurance, aging and more.

A new nationwide initiative from the Public Library Association (PLA) and National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) will increase public library workers’ knowledge and skills related to consumer health services.

Throughout the nine-month Promoting Healthy Communities initiative, PLA and NNLM will assess health information needs among public librarians and share free resources and professional development opportunities that will help public library staff better serve their patrons’ consumer health needs. In early 2018, the initiative will unveil a new website for public libraries that gives them easy access to training, tools and resources for consumer health information, health literacy programming and more.

The initiative will increase the capacity of public libraries to provide quality health reference services by holding training programs and webinars, publishing articles and podcasts about successful library programs, and helping dozens of library staff gain the Certified Health Information Specialization credential.

“Public libraries, by virtue of their trusted position within their communities, are a natural partner in conveying vital health information to their patrons,” said Bobbi Newman, community engagement and outreach specialist for the NNLM’s Greater Midwest Region. “Many public libraries are already engaged in this work, and we look forward to working with PLA to helping all public libraries meet the health and wellness information needs of their communities. .”

NNLM offers a wealth of resources to public libraries, including “program in a box” kits that libraries can use to engage their communities on specific health copies, such as health outreach, nutrition and food labels, and health insurance; funding opportunities and awards available to public libraries; and microlearning videos to inform library staff about NNLM resources. Public librarians can find their regional office and access its resources at https://nnlm.gov/regions.

The American Library Association (ALA) and NNLM recently unveiled a free Health Literacy Toolkit in observation of Health Literacy Month (October). The toolkit includes customizable tools to raise awareness of how libraries support health literacy in their communities, including key messages, program ideas and downloadable marketing materials.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under Grant Number 1UG4LM012346-01 with the University of Iowa.

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About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or pla@ala.org.

About the National Network of Libraries of Medicine
The mission of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) is to advance the progress of medicine and improve the public health by providing all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improving the public's access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health. The Program is coordinated by the National Library of Medicine and carried out through a nationwide network of health science libraries and information centers.

Laurence Deutsch
Manager, Communications
ldeutsch@ala.org
Public Library Association (PLA)