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Triple-A S: Advancing Science, Serving Society


As part of our project, we conducted various activities to obtain feedback and collect data from the project target audiences: members of minority populations who experience health disparities and the librarians who help these individuals access health information in public libraries. Reports summarizing these activities and links to other background information are provided in this section.

Outreach: Ideas and Models

Public librarians in the two Brainstorming Sessions sponsored by the Healthy People Library Project generated many helpful ideas and models for outreach to the targeted minority groups, including the following:

  • Partner with local groups that “take it to the community” — for example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Neighborhood Network Centers — technology centers that are found in some assisted housing communities, and the Community Technology Centers in the CTC Network.
  • Work with community health centers to provide information at the clinics where people come for care. Librarians could help train the clinic staff to assist clients and direct them to the library for further information or assistance.
  • Work with a local hospital, or hospital library, which often have community outreach programs already in place.
  • Partner with groups and agencies that already serve the minority groups the library is trying to reach to do cooperative programming and outreach.
    For example, the Wheaton (MD) Health Information Center works with the African-American Health Alliance, the Spanish American Health Alliance, and the Spanish Catholic Center.
  • The Office of Minority Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities at NLM may be able to help you identify appropriate groups in your community.
  • Enlist the help of volunteer health professionals, such as nurses and pharmacists to serve as “health advocates” in the library. Their expertise could be used in a number of ways in outreach programs. Just one idea: take the pharmacist or nurse with you to the Mall, to answer questions and disseminate information about the library’s health information services or outreach program.
  • Communicate with the major community-based organizations (CBOs) in your community to publicize the library outreach project. Be sure to include both government agencies and non-profit organizations.
  • To disseminate information about a library outreach project, put flyers and other information where these users might be found. For example:

– Health fairs — where health screenings are done
– Churches
– Ethnic festivals
– Daycare centers
– Public schools
– ESL programs
– Workforce development programs

  • Remember that community-based organizations (CBOs) may be willing to partner with the public library in many ways, but that these partnerships and linkages must be nurtured and sustained.
  • On the National Library of Medicine (NLM) web site, you will find many resources. Of interest may be information about the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), which has been working with public libraries, and descriptions of funded outreach projects. Click on Library Services, then Training and Outreach. If you look far enough, you’ll also find information on a new pilot project, Consumer Health Information Outreach for Minority Organizations, which has funded local outreach projects in 2002 that are designed to improve information access for minorities and underserved communities.
  • The participants suggested that successful outreach efforts and models that are generated by the public library field test sites during this project be described on the AAAS Healthy People 2010 Library Initiative web site: www.healthlit.org.

For more information on the Brainstorming sessions, see Report of Findings from Two Brainstorming Sessions and Three Focus Groups.