Information and Instruction Services Librarian Florida International University Miami, Florida
Objectives: Online research guides are an easy and effective tool to promote LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other) health information to health care providers and the public. Current literature recommends them for outreach and education. This study was designed to determine how extensive LGBTQ+ health guides are among hospital and academic libraries and which features are most common.
Methods: To conduct a content analysis, the authors sought out LGBTQ+ health guides in three ways. They searched the Springshare interface for LibGuides mentioning the word “health” and either “LGBT” or “transgender”. Secondly, the websites of AAHSL member libraries were searched for LGBTQ+ health guides. Finally, the websites of Canadian academic libraries were searched for LGBTQ+ health guides. For inclusion in the study, guides needed to consist of at least one complete page devoted to LGBTQ+ health. Only publicly accessible guides from academic libraries or hospitals were included. A content analysis was subsequently conducted to identify major characteristics of the LGBTQ+ research guides, such as target audience and the type of information provided.
Results: LGBTQ research guides were located for 74 institutions. Five of the 74 were hospital libraries and the remainder were academic libraries. Out of 158 AAHSL member libraries, 48 (30.4%) had LGBTQ+ guides. Just over half of the guides (56.8%) featured information targeted to health care providers, and a smaller percentage (37.8%) had consumer health information. Most guides (95.9% provided general LGBTQ+ health information, and the majority (87.8%) also featured information resources for transgender health. Smaller percentages of guides highlighted two other LGBTQ+ health specialties: HIV/AIDS information (48.6%) and women’s health (16.2%).
Conclusions: Despite recommendations in the published literature that health sciences libraries can provide outreach easily through online research guides, it would appear that the majority of libraries are missing a valuable opportunity by not maintaining LGBTQ+ health guides. Further research may be necessary to determine how successful existing guides are and what barriers are preventing more libraries from creating guides.