Health Information in Libraries

"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." -- Health Online 2013 by Susannah Fox and Maeve Duggan, January 15, 2013

Please be aware, we do not provide medical advice, nor are the materials we provide a substitute for a professional medical opinion.

Libraries can provide information on topics such as:

  • Medical conditions or diseases
  • Prescription medications
  • Surgical procedures
  • General physician and hospital information
  • Book and website recommendations for further reading

A selection of websites that offer healthcare resources for patrons:

American Association for the Advancement of Science The Challenge of Providing Consumer Health Information Services in Public Libraries (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

Brown, C. L., Y. Belinda, and C. S. Brown. “Health Information on the Internet: Seeking the Gold Standard.” Choice Reviews Online 46, no. 12 (August 2009): 2239-49. Accessed November 7, 2013. (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

Delaware Division of Libraries Consumer Health Information: Best Practices for Public Libraries  (PDF) (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

HealthInfoIowa  -- An Iowa-focused website with authoritative content that ranges from national health and medical databases to regional, state and local links. A first stop for Iowans, both information consumers and providers.

Library and Information Science Wiki (LISWiki) (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

Medical Library Association Resources for Health Consumers (AccessedJan. 28, 2015)

National Library of Medicine Guide to Finding Health Information (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

National Network of Libraries of Medicine - Public Libraries and Community Partners: Working Together to Provide Health Information  (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)


Resources on Providing Health Information in Libraries

Becker, Samantha. Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries.Washington, D.C.: Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010.

Goldsmith, Francisca. Libraries and the Affordable Care Act: Helping the Community Understand Health-Care Options. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2015.

Kars, Marge, Lynda Baker, and Feleta L. Wilson. The Medical Library Association Guide to Health Literacy. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2008.

Kenyon, Andrea, and Barbara Palmer Casini. The Public Librarian's Guide to Providing Consumer Health Information.Chicago, Ill: Public Library Association, 2002.

Lukenbill, Bill and Barbara Immroth. (2009) "School and Public Youth Librarians as Health Information Gatekeepers: Research from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas." School Library Media Resources. (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

Luo, Lili and Van Ta Park. (2013) "Preparing Public Librarians for Consumer Health Information Service: A Nationwide Study." Library & Information Science Research 35: 319-317.

Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) online course: Health Information 101 (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

Webjunction Health Information Rx: Reference Tools for Health Questions   (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

Webjunction Health Websites for Spanish Speakers  (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015)

Westbrook, Lynn. "'I'm Not a Social Worker': An Information Service Model for Working with Patrons in Crisis." The Library Quarterly, Jan. 2015 (v. 85, no.1), p. 6-25.

Yi, Yong Jeong. "Consumer Health Information Behavior in Public Libraries: A Qualitative Study." The Library Quarterly, Jan. 2015 (v. 85, no.1), p. 45-63.

More resources on providing health information

Information specifically about the Affordable Care Act of 2010


Last updated January 30,2015.