Health and Wellness @ the Library: The Essentials of Providing Consumer Health Services
Course Instructor: Kelli Ham
Jan 11 - Feb 7, 2011
Fee: Because of special grant funding, this online course is $25 to the California library community and Infopeople Partners, $150 for all others.
(An Infopeople Online Learning Course)
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 – Monday, February 7, 2011
"Research shows that individuals often make critical healthcare decisions without enough information…" "Whooping cough epidemic declared in California…" "40% of adults ages 18 to 34 had two or more chronic conditions…" "…the average American reads at about the 8th grade level, yet most health care materials are written above the 10th grade level…"
These facts are just a sampling of health-related issues that impact your own community. Specialized skills and knowledge are required to serve library users competently who ask tough health questions.
- What are the most pressing consumer health issues facing your community?
- When users come to library for answers to their health questions, are you confident in your knowledge of up-to-date, quality resources that are most appropriate for each individual?
- Are you faced with the challenges of finding quality health information in other languages or at understandable reading levels?
- Are you comfortable handling sensitive health reference questions?
- Do you have ideas for designing relevant and timely health programming in your library, but don't know where to start?
- Are you interested in making your library and your community healthier places?
Build your competencies in the necessary skills and knowledge required for all health-related services by attending this online course. The course follows the contents of the recently published "Finding Health and Wellness @ the Library" toolkit, a project funded by the California State Library to help libraries everywhere provide top-notch health information services for their communities.
Course Description: This online course defines the basics of consumer health information and then dives directly into the essential skills and knowledge that public library staff need to help diverse users find trustworthy and appropriate health information. By understanding the needs of your own community and the information-seeking behaviors of users, you will be prepared with the right tools and resources even before the questions are asked.
Together we will explore the resources for just about any health question, mobile health technologies, how people are using social networking for health questions, and how to create fun and informative health-related programming for different age groups and populations. You will be reading articles and summaries of studies, completing assignments, and participating in online discussions. Participants will learn about core reference and other print materials for library collections, web resources beyond the major sites, and tips for helping library users evaluate health materials they encounter on their own. A new topic area each week will expand on familiar concepts and provide exposure to new concepts, techniques and resources to take your skills to the next level. At the beginning of Week 2, participants will be provided a list of topics from which to choose for their final project.
Preliminary Course Outline: Using your web browser and your Internet connection, you will log in to the Infopeople online learning site and complete the following learning modules:
- Week 1: Consumer Health Basics
- Understanding the community
- Characteristics and needs of users as they seek health information
- The role and limitations of library staff as health information providers
- Literacy and health literacy: definitions, implications and strategies
- Week 2: Health Reference in the Real World
- Unique aspects of health reference
- Legal, ethical, and privacy issues
- Techniques and resources for serving diverse users
- Evaluation criteria and helping users evaluate health materials
- Week 3: Health Resources: There's a (book, web site, app) for that
- Best health websites for diseases, conditions, therapies, wellness, and more
- Finding special content – multimedia, easy-to-read and multilingual materials
- Choosing, evaluating, and weeding core reference and circulating materials
- Guidance about finding and using health information using mobile technologies and social networking sites
- Week 4: The Library as a Healthy Place
- Designing health programs of interest to users in the community
- Effective promotion and marketing of health information services
- How partnerships can enhance services and extend the reach of the library
- Incorporating workplace wellness into your library
Time required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend two hours per week, for a total of eight course hours. Each week's module contains readings and selected content, discussion questions, and assignments. You can choose the options most relevant to your work and interests. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night, it is recommended that you complete each week's work within that week to stay in sync with other learners.
Who Should Take This Course: This course is relevant for reference and adult services librarians, and all other library staff who provide health information reference and services to the public. While some staff may not have direct responsibilities in areas such as programming or building partnerships in the community, any staff member with an interest in consumer health services can benefit from exposure to the concepts covered in the course.
Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at
Course Start: This 4-week-long online learning course starts on Tuesday January 11, 2011.
After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind time to work independently to complete the course.