Health Literacy, Programming, and Consumer Health Information

Because Librarians Know Information Is the Best Medicine for Healthcare Questions - Libraries Transform -

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Promoting Healthy Communities: A Health Information Initiative

Promoting Healthy Communities: A Health Information and Health Literacy Initiative logoAccess 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 the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) will increase public library workers’ knowledge and skills related to consumer health services. PLA and NNLM are assessing 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.

New PLA Health Initiative Advisory Group

PLA recently formed a Health Initiative Advisory Group to develop and implement strategies to advance public library services related to health information and health literacy.

  • Scott G. Allen, MS, Deputy Director, PLA (Chicago, IL)
  • Francisca Goldsmith, Library and Media Consultant, Library Ronin (Worcester, MA)
  • Noah Lenstra, Assistant Professor, Library and Information Studies, University of North Carolina (Greensboro, NC)
  • Margot Malachowski, NNLM - New England Region
  • Carolyn Martin, NNLM - Pacific Northwest Region
  • Pattie Mayfield, Director, Bertha Voyer Memorial Library (Honey Grove, TX)
  • Susan McClelland, Health and Wellness Librarian, Oak Park (IL) Public Library
  • Bobbi Newman (co-chair), NNLM - Greater Midwest Region
  • Julie Robinson (co-chair), Refugee & Immigrant Services & Empowerment (RISE) Outreach Manager, Kansas City (MO) Public Library
  • Marion Scichilone, Assistant Managing Librarian, The Seattle (WA) Public Library / Central Library
  • Stephanie Smith, Youth Services Librarian, Gloucester County (NJ) Library System

Resources Website

PLA launched a new website, Healthy Community Tools for Public Libraries, to compile training resources, program ideas, and trustworthy health web sites and databases. The web site also includes links to evidence-based health news, updated multiple times a day, to help public librarians stay up-to-date and incorporate emerging issues into their programming.

PLA/Libraries Transform Health Literacy Toolkit

In October 2017, for Health Literacy Month, PLA, ALA, and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine released a Health Literacy Toolkit as part of ALA's Libraries Transform public awareness campaign. The Toolkit includes the campaign's signature 'Because' statements, messaging, and downloadable graphics intended to help libraries increase awareness of their role in providing health information to consumers. Libraries Transform website registration is required to download the materials.

Regional Medical Library Membership

Membership in your National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Regional Medical Library is free and provides you with access to training, funding, and materials to keep your library programming strong and keep your community healthy. Read more in a letter from 2017–2018 PLA President Pam Sandlian Smith and a brochure about the benefits of membership.

Online Learning

Putting the Consumer Health Information Specialization to Work in Public LibrariesPutting the Consumer Health Information Specialization to Work in Public Libraries
A FREE on-demand webinar
Panelists: Carolyn Martin, Bobbi Newman, Erin Donlan, Susan Kroll, Debbie Stanton & Scott Allen

Education about consumer health services and programming can help public librarians stay current and develop new programs and services for their communities. This on-demand webinar provides an overview of educational programs available via the National Network of Libraries of Medicine about consumer health and specific health topics. These programs can help librarians get the Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) credential, which brings an additional, recognized level of expertise to their libraries and helps them connect with community partners. This on-demand webinar reviews CHIS requirements and benefits and showcases specific projects and programs that public library staff have developed with the knowledge they gained from consumer health educational experiences. More…

PLA Health Interest Group

Join PLA’s Health interest group (login required*) to connect with members interested in increasing their knowledge and skills related to consumer health services and programming to help patrons better navigate complex health issues. Please note that participation in PLA interest groups is limited to PLA personal members and login is required.

PLA Health Initiative e-News

Members and non-members alike can receive news about Promoting Healthy Communities. Just visit the PLA Email Opt-In Manager and select the box labeled "Health Initiative Newsletter." There you can also subscribe for specialized newsletters on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; and PLA's Performance Measurement Initiative, AKA Project Outcome.

*You will be asked to login with your ALA website login and password to confirm your current PLA personal membership. If you’ve forgotten your login information, you'll be able to retrieve your username/password or create a login if you don't have one from the "Login" page.

Developed resources reported on this website are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012346. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.