Serving the Unaffiliated Mental Health Practitioners in Central New York
The sum of the three $500 grants for the “What Can the 21st Century Library Offer to Mental Health Practitioners in Rural Areas?” project have shown some initial success with significant potential for further expansion. The Health Sciences Library at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY was looking to provide library services to unaffiliated health care professionals located in the rural counties of central New York. This unmet information need was initially identified by our Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine. The team formed to proceed with this project included George Blakeslee, a social worker in the Department of Psychiatry, Diane Davis Luft, Assistant Director of Customer Services in the Health Sciences Library, and Bradley A. Long, Head of Reference and Liaison Services in the Health Sciences Library.
The first group that we approached was Chenango County Mental Hygiene Services, located in Norwich, NY. Our initial focus was to approach them to provide document delivery, mediated searches, and to potentially manage an extended trial of the PsychiatryOnline database for them. After an initial meeting, and after a subsequent meeting with the IV County Mental Hygiene Directors (Chenango, Delaware, Otsego, and Schoharie counties) it was determined that grant funded document delivery and mediated searching services were very desirable. However, it was not an option to provide subscriptions to any online resources could not be financially sustained after the conclusion of the trial. On a positive note, it was determined that their information needs could be redirected towards the creation of a project specific webpage containing links to free websites with quality mental health information for both the professional and the consumer. This led us to create the R-Psych Library, specifically for this group, with Chenango County Mental Hygiene Services as apparently our most active user.
The one service that we were not equipped to handle was interlibrary loan requests for books. However, after consulting with the Guernsey Memorial Library, Norwich, NY, they were more than willing to provide this service to the employees of the Chenango County Mental Hygiene Services who resided within the county. By dealing directly with local public libraries for book ILL requests, this should help us remove this service barrier. Also, it will open the possibility of working directly with the local public libraries on other community health initiatives that Health Sciences Library already has in place.
The project has shown initial success with Chenango County, with unforeseen expansion to two state hospitals that no longer have their own libraries. They are the Greater Binghamton Health Center and Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse. Additionally, we have since been approached by the Broome County Health Department to expand the service to the public health sector, for which initial work has begun. Other county mental health departments have been reluctant to engage in the project, but continued marketing and commitment on our part should hopefully address this issue. Also, our continued effort to seek various funding resources will help this project continue to its fullest potential.
Bradley A Long- Health Sciences Library. SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY.