In order to raise the profile of the Community Health Library (CHL) at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), the CHL librarian participates in local community health fairs. A Small Project Award allowed the purchase of an eye-catching, easily transported, tabletop presentation board as well as 50 USB drives to be used as giveaways at the health fair displays. Both the USB drives and the header of the presentation board were customized with the library name and/or logo. The USB drives were also preloaded with three documents providing consumers with information to use to evaluate health websites, tips on using search engines, and a suggested list of highly regarded, authoritative health websites for quick access to credible consumer health information resources. The goal of the project was to increase usage of the CHL and its resources.
The CHL librarian attended two community health fairs in the spring of 2009. The CHL display included the presentation board, which prominently featured resources available for use at the CHL, and the USB drives as well as pamphlets, CHL brochures, and NLM promotional items featuring MedlinePlus. Print copies of the handouts that had been preloaded onto the USB drives were also available. The CHL table was visited by approximately 100 people over the course of the two health fairs. The display was well received and all of the USB drives were given to interested consumers. Request for four consumer health literature searches were received and completed.
The Small Project Award allowed the library staff to test the use of USB drives as a promotional item for health fair displays and an important lesson was learned. Many people who stopped at the CHL table were older adults, and this has been the case at some other community fairs as well. A significant number of these senior citizens either did not use a computer or thought they would need assistance to use a USB drive, consequently the USB drives were of less interest to them than were the print materials provided on the table. The CHL librarian has attended other health fairs where the target population was families and the USB drive might have been better utilized as a tool at such a health fair. This lesson reinforced the importance of research prior to attending a health fair. By learning more details about the target population, promotional items can be selected that would be most appealing to that particular group.
The CHL at HUMC provides consumer health information to patients, family members and friends, employees and the community at large in Bergen County, New Jersey. Information is sent via mail, email or fax and reference requests can be submitted by all of these methods as well as by telephone. The CHL is located within the Samuel and Sandra Hekemian Medical Library at HUMC.
Deborah Magnan – Hackensack University Medical Center- Samuel & Sandra Hekemian Medical Library. Hackensack, NJ