Hi Marcy,
I have been involved in providing consumer health information services since 1985.  To me the most important thing is the expertise of the librarian--your expertise allows you to provide "quality filtered" information using the online resources that you already have access to.  It is great to have a collection, but it is the librarian that holds the key to this kind of service.  You might be able to extend service through cooperation with the local public library.  You could offer to do the "hard" searches that they can't do.  Many voluntary health organizations also provide free pamphlets, although more of them are charging.  You might be able to get a small grant to purchase some of these items, or a subscription to Wired.MD online patient ed videos.  Your NNLM can tell you about grants that may be available for materials.

However, there is no question that these activities can be time consuming. You have to decide what you can afford to take on, and what kind of space you can allocate if you want to set up a pc for consumers, for example.  

You can find more info on consumer health information services at the CAPHIS web site.

Good Luck!

Margaret Bandy, M.A.L.S., AHIP
Manager, Exempla Healthcare Libraries
Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital
1835 Franklin Street, Denver, CO 80218
303-837-7848 Fax 303-837-7977
[log in to unmask]
Opinions expressed are mine and not those of Exempla Healthcare.

-----Original Message-----
From: Marcy Brown [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2003 8:38 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: CHAT: Consumer health in smaller libraries

Good morning,

Recent postings, discussion, and the "AdvocacyToolbox" cards distributed with the recent JMLA, have led me to wonder about who among us is doing this thing we call "Consumer Health." In particular, I'm wondering about the types of resources essential to providing good consumer service. I would really, really like to extend our services to the community at large, but simply cannot afford any print materials. We do of course have access to free online materials, and subscribe to Gale Health and Wellness which has full text of many consumer-type journals, but books, videos, and pamphlets are out of the question.

For those of y'all in small to mid-sized libraries providing consumer service, which materials are in the greatest demand? Is it possible to offer these services without circulating books, videos, multimedia materials, etc.? What are ways you've convinced your administrators to take on this non-revenue-generating activity which could, potentially, make it more difficult for the library to provide service to clinicians?

Thanks in advance for the discussion.           Marcy

Marcy Brown MLS, AHIP
Forbes Regional Hospital
Monroeville PA
[log in to unmask]

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the West Penn Allegheny Health System Help Desk at (412) 330-4357.

This footnote also confirms that this email message has been swept by MIMEsweeper for the presence of computer viruses.