A New Toolkit to Promote Health Resources at Libraries

I’ve written before about how public libraries are a vitally important resource for teaching health literacy skills, providing health-related programs and services, and offering access to reliable health information for the general public.  The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) offers public libraries a number of resources to help them fulfill this role, such as free online classes for library staff on consumer health topics and a fantastic guide to health information resources and programming ideas (created with California State Library), Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library: A Consumer Health Toolkit for Library Staff (2nd ed).  Back in September, I learned about a new toolkit created by NNLM and the American Library Association (ALA) for promoting health literacy at libraries that I wanted to take a closer look at.

This Health Literacy Toolkit is part of the broader Libraries Transform campaign from ALA, which is “designed to increase public awareness of the value, impact and services provided by libraries and library professionals.”  The toolkit offers simple, catchy “Because Statements” highlighting how libraries benefit individual and community health (like “Because quality information helps you make better decisions”).

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Because Statements from the toolkit.

Each Because Statement can be printed as a poster, postcard, bookmark, or table tent or shared on social media (graphics sized for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook).  The toolkit also offers key messages, activity suggestions, and resource links related to each Because Statement.  Access to the toolkit materials is free, but users must register to access the materials.  The toolkit isn’t made specifically for public libraries and can also be used in school, academic, and special libraries to promote health resources.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the elegantly simple and unifying promotional messages offered by the Health Literacy Toolkit.  I spend a lot of time on social media in my current job, and I understand the importance of bold, simple statements that will hook the audience and stick in their mind.  Libraries are such amazingly valuable resources for offering equal access to high quality information and services, but unfortunately some people may view libraries as obsolete due to changing technology and user needs.  The Because Statements in this toolkit act as sharp, quick explanations about why libraries are still relevant and important for community health.  I also appreciate that the Because Statements can be downloaded in a wide variety of formats, so libraries can use them for both print and social media promotion.

The toolkit has a few areas where it could potentially be improved to increase promotional value and also direct library staff to additional useful health resources.  The text of the Because Statements is very catchy, but some sort of imagery added below the Because Statements could make the graphics much more eye-catching and appealing to a wider range of library patrons. Translation of the Because Statements into other languages (especially Spanish) could also help to reach a broader population of patrons.  Finally, I’d love to see some sort of integration between this new toolkit and the Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library toolkit.

The Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library toolkit offers a much broader list of health resources and programming ideas, while the Health Literacy Toolkit offers the graphics and promotional messages needed to promote these health resources and programs.  The Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library toolkit does seem to be in need of an update (with the second edition published in 2013).  Hopefully if the Health and Wellness toolkit is updated in the near future, it will be more closely linked to the new Health Literacy Toolkit.  Both toolkits offer important and complementary tools for creating and promoting health resources and programs within libraries.

 

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National Networks of Libraries: Biomedical, Patent/Trademark, and Government Publications

Sometimes a person can’t find the information they need online, so they may actually need to go to a local library for research assistance, print and digital resources, and training opportunities.  Unfortunately, many people in different parts of the country can’t afford to travel all the way to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) for biomedical information or to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) headquarters for intellectual property information.  That’s why many academic and public libraries across the US are part of specialized library networks for sharing different types of information:

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NNLM

Overview: The NNLM is funded and coordinated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and the mission of the NNLM is to “advance the progress of medicine and improve public health by providing U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improving individual’s access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.”  Learn more through the About NNLM page.

Where they are located: The NNLM is made up of eight regions across the US, with a Regional Medical Library coordinating NNLM programs within each region.  Members of NNLM include “libraries, information centers, or other types of organizations,” and organizations can easily submit a form to request free membership.

What they offer:  NNLM offers many funding opportunities and free training opportunities ranging from consumer health to systematic review skills.  Membership within the network offers benefits like access to “free educational and printed materials” and “opportunities to request an NLM Traveling Exhibition to visit your library or organization.”

PTRC

Overview: PTRCs are “a nationwide network of public, state and academic libraries that are designated by the USPTO to disseminate patent and trademark information and to support the diverse intellectual property needs of the public.” Learn more about PTRCs through their History and Background page.

Where they are located: PTRCs are located at public, academic, state, and special libraries across most states in the US.  To become a PTRC, institutions must meet a number of requirements defined by the USPTO, and the institutions will then receive ongoing training and assistance from the USPTO to help staff at the PTRC understand patent and trademark protections and and search tools.

What they offer: All PTRCs provide patrons with access to a core collection of US patent and trademark information, and they also offer “patent and trademark training as well as provide reference assistance and outreach to the public.”

FDLP

Overview: The FDLP is administered by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), and “FDLP libraries collaborate on a local and national level to provide informed access to both historical and current Federal Government resources distributed through the FDLP.” Check the FDLP Basics page to learn more.

Where they are located: Federal depository libraries are located across the US in all 50 state, and institutions can be designated as Federal depository libraries by either congressional delegation (“each member of Congress may designate up to two qualified libraries”) or by-law designations.

What they offer: Federal depository libraries must have access to a basic core collection, and the libraries also have no-fee access to agency subscription databases.  There are a number of other collections and databases related to federal information that depository libraries may also offer access to. The FDLP offers many useful training resources for librarians and information professionals through FDLP Academy, such as webinars, training videos, events and conferences, a training assistance center, and more.  I suggest subscribing by email to the News and Events bulletins sent out by FDLP (you can learn about some great free webinars).

These are just the federally-funded library networks that I’m currently aware of, but I hope to learn about other networks for different types of specialized information in the coming years.

Online Health Resources in Amharic

I recently took the class Health and Wellness @ the Library: The Essentials of Providing Consumer Health Services, a free online course available through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), and the final project provided the option to create a “pathfinder” of online health information for a specific audience.  I decided to create a pathfinder to help local library staff, healthcare professionals, and community leaders locate reliable health resources for community members who primarily speak Amharic in Silver Spring, Maryland.  There is a large Ethiopian American community living in the Silver Spring area, many of whom speak Amharic, so I thought this pathfinder would be particularly relevant to my local community.

Amharic-Language Consumer Health Materials (Located through English-Language Websites)

EthnoMed Amharic Resources (https://ethnomed.org/patient-education/amharic): A website from Harborview Medical Center linking to health and cultural information related to immigrant and refugee groups. Browse through a list of Amharic patient education materials, organized alphabetically by title. Linked materials include both documents and videos.  Topics cover a range of chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, HIV, and hepatitis, as well as general wellness, women’s health, healthcare communication, and medication safety information.

Health Navigator Amharic Health Information (https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/languages/a/amharic/): A website overseen by the Health Navigator Charitable Trust in New Zealand.  Resources are listed under an alphabetical list of health topics, including important common topics like children’s health, women’s health, mental health, sexual health, oral health, immunizations, accessing healthcare, asthma, diabetes, heart health, and more.  Formats include PDFs and HTML websites.

Health Translations Amharic Resources (http://www.healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcht.nsf/PresentMultilingualResource?Open&x=&s=Amharic): An online directory created by the Victorian Government of Australia to provide consumer health information in multiple languages. Browse through an alphabetical list of health topics to view Amharic health resources related to each topic.  Most resources seem to be in PDF format. Topics with large collections of resources include cancer, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, infections, mental health, and parenting.

HealthReach Amharic Resources (https://healthreach.nlm.nih.gov/searchresults?keywords=&btnsearch=Search&category=1&country=&population=&language=Amharic&format=&user=&records=10): A database of health information in multiple languages from the US National Library of Medicine. Browse through over 60 results, including document, video, and audio resources.  Enter search terms to narrow results by topic.  Resources from toolkits covering a wide range of refugee and immigrant health topics (including “Safe, Smart and Healthy – Keys to Success in Your New Home” series and “Health and Wellbeing” series) are available, as well as patient materials related to bed bugs, women’s health, children’s health, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and a Zika fact sheet.

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Video about medical care and health insurance in Amharic, located through HealthReach.

King County Information translated in Amharic (http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/languages/amharic.aspx): Translated health materials from King County, WA.  Download videos, posters, handouts, and comic strips in Amharic, organized under topics related to children’s health, communicable diseases, emergency preparedness, and environmental health.

MedlinePlus Health Information in Amharic (amarunya) (https://medlineplus.gov/languages/amharic.html): Consumer health portal from the National Library of Medicine. Browse a list of Amharic resource links (mostly in PDF format) organized under an alphabetical list of health topics, including emergency preparedness, diabetes, tuberculosis, and more.

Minnesota Department of Health Amharic Translated Materials (http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/translation/amharic.html):  Translated health information from the Minnesota Department of Health.  Browse Amharic handouts (available as PDFs) on topics including emergency preparedness, flu, immunizations, prenatal/postpartum depression, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis.

Multicultural Health Communication Amharic Resources (http://www.mhcs.health.nsw.gov.au/publicationsandresources/pdf/language-1/amharic#b_start=0): Database of multilingual health resources from the New South Wales (Australia) Ministry of Health. Browse resources available in Amharic and filter by health topic or resource type (including PDFs, audio, video, or website).  Health topics include women’s health, children’s health, nutrition, and common infectious diseases.

Local Resources

Ethiopian Community Center in Maryland (http://ethioccmd.org/):  An organization located in Silver Spring which provides health information, seminars, workshops, health screenings, and medical referrals to the local Ethiopian community.

Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center (http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/gilchrist/): Find links and referrals for immigrants in Montgomery County, including healthcare-related referrals.

Where to Start with Big Data?

Librarians have to sink or swim in the constantly shifting waters of the information field, and the latest wave sweeping over information sciences is Big Data. I started learning about the importance of data analysis and visualization while working with patents, where analysis of large patent portfolios could be used for competitive intelligence, planning acquisitions, spotting trends in a technology sector, and much more.

Now working in the health field, I’m truly beginning to see why everyone calls it “Big Data.”  The amount of data generated through general healthcare services and biomedical research is truly staggering, ranging from data in electronic health records to genomic data generated through human genome sequencing.  How do we make this data searchable and reusable, so researchers can discover new innovations from existing data sets?  How do we also protect personal information, especially with data generated from electronic health records?  Can researchers retain intellectual property rights to their data while still making their data searchable and reusable?  There are so many thorny issues to consider and new concepts to learn surrounding Big Data and data science in general, and it can be a daunting task trying to find a place to start.

Here are a few resources which are helping me wrap my mind around basic data science concepts and the current state of Big Data:

  1. To get an overview of how data science is impacting the healthcare field, I’m taking the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) online course Big Data in Healthcare: Emerging Roles.  (I highly recommend checking the NNLM Upcoming Classes list for other free courses and webinars you can sign up for.)
  2. Check out this recording of a webinar called Data Science 101: An Introduction for Librarians (also from NNLM), which provides a quick overview of data science concepts like the data science pipeline, machine learning, supervised learning, unsupervised learning, natural language processing, etc.
  3. IBM produced a great infographic called The Four V’s of Big Data, which describes how big data can be broken down into four dimensions: volume, velocity, variety, and veracity of the data.
  4. Learn about the FAIR Data Principles, which suggest that all data sets should be findable, accessible, interoperable, and re-usable.  A recent article in Nature gives a detailed overview of the FAIR Data Principles.
  5. I found the blog post Is Big Data Still a Thing? (The 2016 Big Data Landscape) by Matt Turck to be a useful overview of the current state of Big Data, especially the infographic included in the post which illustrates many of the major players in the field.