Global Health & Health Equity

Paper: Program Description Abstract

Elevating Public Librarians to Empower Patients

Monday, May 6
4:35 PM - 4:50 PM
Room: Columbus CD (East Tower, Ballroom/Gold Level)

Background : After spending a year delivering community health information workshops at local sites, including public libraries, the project team identified a need for public librarian professional development. The team designed a curriculum with the goal of improving librarians’ consumer health resources knowledge base and training them to assist patrons in utilizing effective communication methods with their healthcare providers. The curriculum was also developed with the objective of increasing the number of area librarians with MLA’s Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) designation.
Description : The curriculum incorporated three MLA 4-credit CE courses approved for CHIS. Two existing courses were selected, but one course was developed by the project team. This new CE course incorporates health literacy concepts, patient-physician interaction strategies, health information resources, and how they can be combined to improve healthcare communication and empower patients. Funding was received to support the purchase of twenty-five iPads for the public libraries to deliver health information in a confidential setting, MLA CE fees, and CHIS designation for participating librarians.

Twenty-three librarians from six public libraries, representing urban, suburban, and rural communities, completed the curriculum and twenty of these achieved CHIS designations. Evaluation consisted of the required MLA CE evaluations, a pre- and post- questionnaire for the newly developed course, and a three month follow up questionnaire sent to all participants. A one-year follow up is planned.

Conclusion : The evaluations indicated a change in behavior and knowledge. Librarians reported increased competence in subject content, comfort in their ability to help patrons prepare for their doctor’s appointments, and knowledge of health information resources. For example, 32% were confident or very confident prior to the workshop that they could help patrons find quality health information. That number rose to 95% in the post-test. The three-month follow-up survey indicated that these results were sustained. All responding librarians indicated that the curriculum changed where they go for health information. The one-year follow-up will measure the same metrics as the three-month survey.

Elizabeth Irish, AHIP

Assistant Professor
Albany Medical College
Albany, New York

Elizabeth Irish, MLS, AHIP is an Assistant Professor at SLHS, Albany Medical College. She has co-authored multiple publications and presentations on consumer topics.


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Kara Burke

Director for Community Engagement
Albany Medical College
Albany, New York


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Ingrid Allard

Associate Dean for Community Outreach and Medical Education
Albany Medical College
Albany, New York

Ingrid M. Allard, MD, MSEd is the Associate Dean for Community Outreach and Medical Education at Albany Medical College. She is an associate professor in the departments of Medical Education and Pediatrics. Dr. Allard graduated from Brown University in Providence, RI and earned her MD degree at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She received her Master’s degree in medical education from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.


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Enid Geyer, AHIP

Associate Dean for Information Resources and Technology
Schaffer Library of Health Sciences
Albany, New York

Enid Geyer, MLS, MBA, AHIP, is the Associate Dean for Information Resources and Technology and the Director of the Schaffer Library of Health Sciences at Albany Medical College. Ms. Geyer has over 20 years of experience applying and integrating technology and information resources into undergraduate and graduate medical education. She is a proponent of extending the reach of academic health center librarian expertise by working with public librarians to reach their communities.


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Elevating Public Librarians to Empower Patients

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