In the Region: Delaware Consumer Health Information Services (DCHIS)
Consumers often visit the public library to find health information. How do public librarians meet consumer health information needs? Delaware librarians have medical library expertise right in their own buildings, thanks to Delaware Consumer Health Information Services (DCHIS, http://www.healthyde.org), a program funded by Delaware Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health and administered by the Delaware Academy of Medicine. DCHIS was established in 2003 and now covers Kent County, Sussex County, and New Castle County. Recently Arpita Bose, NN/LM MAR Outreach and Communications Coordinator, interviewed the DCHIS librarians, Patty Hartmannsgruber, Linda Leonard, and Susan LaValley, about their unique role as medical librarians in public libraries.
What do you do at DCHIS?
We are each stationed at a host public library: Patty is in Kent County at Dover Public Library; Linda is in Sussex County at Rehoboth Beach Public Library; and Susan is in New Castle County at Bear Public Library. Our duties include collection development, staffing the public reference desk, and programming.
What kinds of health programs do you present?
We have facilitated programs on diabetes and nutrition, homeopathy, and complementary medicine. One of the programs was called Facts Versus Quacks; it focused on evaluating health information web sites. We present the programs ourselves, or we have expert speakers lead the programs. Our events happen inside the library and also outside the library, at senior centers, for instance.
What other projects do you do?
We are responsible for Go Local Delaware, which links MedlinePlus with local resources in the state. Patty has also started to prepare a binder of consumer health resources along with sample questions that patrons might ask. Other public librarians will be able to refer to this binder when they receive consumer health inquiries.
What is the best part of your job at DCHIS?
We enjoy working with the public. This program gives us the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of activities, and we have the freedom to be creative about collection development and programming. We enjoy going outside the library to spread the word about consumer health. We attend senior expos, women’s health fairs, Spanish language health fairs, and alternative health expos. The public librarians in our branches also appreciate knowing that we are there to answer complex consumer health information questions.
What’s next for DCHIS?
We are rethinking our image to give us more name recognition in the public libraries. We are planning a name change, logo change, and branding for ourselves. We have become involved with a coalition of health educators and plan to ask them about marketing strategies for our services.
For more information about DCHIS, visit their web site, Healthy DE.
Would you like your library to be featured In the Region? Contact Arpita Bose (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Delaware Consumer Health Information Services Librarians (from left): Susan LaValley, Linda Leonard, Patty Hartmannsgruber. Not pictured: PJ Grier, Director of Library and Information Services, Lewis B. Flinn Library, Delaware Academy of Medicine