Skip all navigation and go to page content
NN/LM Home About NER | Contact NER | Feedback |Site Map | Help | Bookmark and Share

Archive for the ‘Health Literacy’ Category

Public Libraries and Improved Health

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

[Guest post from Deb Clark, Maine State Library]

Check out this radio show interview with Portland Public Library director, Steve Podgajny and Dr. Sam Zager formerly at Maine Medical Center which discusses the findings of the recent HeLPURS study showing a correlation between public library use and improvement in individual health. The HeLPURS radio interview (show #166)  will be streaming on the website at

This important study demonstrates the value of public libraries in supporting healthy behavior change. It provides an opportunity for our libraries to show their worth to their communities as places which can assist users in their efforts to live healthier lifestyles, another way libraries strengthen their communities. Please take a few moments to listen to the program and think about how your library can provide health information and programming that promotes informed health decision-making and positive health behaviors. Here’s a summary of the study below. The results of the study are currently being prepared for publication.

Pioneering Research by Maine Physician Proves Link Between Public Library Use And Tobacco Cessation In Study Done In Collaboration With Portland Public Library

In 2010, a highly regarded group of physicians, brain scientists, social scientists, and other experts went on record with their expert opinion that public libraries likely promote health. One Maine physician has just completed the first-ever direct and broad research on the topic – and proved their instincts were on the right track.

Maine physician Dr. Sam Zager was the driving force behind the Health and Libraries of Public Use Retrospective Study (HeLPURS), the first broad investigation of health and public libraries. The study investigated whether a link between library use and health could be quantifiably established. Dr. Zager’s interest in the intersection of health and public library use grew out of his involvement in library advocacy efforts in Boston several years ago. He noticed that the prior research into health and libraries was sparse and narrowly focused on health literacy. No studies existed to determine the relationship between library use and individuals’ health profiles.

HeLPURS research was made possible through a collaboration with Portland Public Library, spearheaded by PPL’s Health and Institutional Research Teams and funded by a generous grant from the Anne Randolph Henry Charitable Foundation. Study participants were recruited from among a large pool of adult Maine Medical Center Family Medicine patients. Participants who were also PPL card holders granted permission for the Library to release information on frequency of their library use for correlation by Dr. Zager and his colleagues with their medical histories. Throughout the study, all privacy laws and human research ethics protocols as well as PPL privacy policies were strictly observed, and no personal borrowing history was ever queried.

The project results provide evidence that public library use has quantifiable associations with health, particularly in the areas of substance abuse and depression-anxiety disorders. The most dramatic finding is that moderate or higher use of public libraries is associated with tobacco cessation. Individuals who have ever been smokers and who used the library at least moderately – seven or more items checked out per active year – were nearly three times more likely to have successfully quit smoking, compared with smokers who used the library less.

“HeLPURS offers the first direct evidence that public libraries could be health-promoting spaces,” Zager says, “This was out-of-the-box thinking, but now these results beg for further research. The current findings also have important implications when estimating return on investment in public libraries in Maine and across the country.”

Zager’s sentiments are echoed by PPL Executive Director Steve Podgajny. “What the HeLPURS study does,” Podgajny observes, “is to clinically isolate a specific and very important health relationship that public libraries have with individuals and the community as a whole. The study has many ramifications one of which is how public libraries might serve more effectively as a vehicle for public health funding and goals.”

About Dr. Zager

Dr. Sam Zager is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who holds an MD from Harvard University and an M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from Oxford University. His presentation on HeLPURS won top prize at the Maine Academy of Family Physicians Annual Conference last month. Dr. Zager has been a Family Medicine Resident Physician at Maine Medical Center since 2011, and he will begin practicing Family Medicine with Martin’s Point Healthcare starting in September 2014.

Post Contributed by:

Deborah A. Clark, Consultant

Southern Maine Library District

Portland Public Library



Health Insurance Open Enrollment Webinar

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

If you missed the CMS webinar, we invite you to view the recording:

Got Coverage? Need Coverage? Getting Health Insurance During the Open Enrollment Period / October 2014 (Recording | Presentation (PDF))

Presenter: Jennifer Syria, Health Insurance Specialist, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Boston Regional Office
Summary: During the next few months, millions of Americans will need to decide how they would like to receive their health care coverage in 2015. This webinar will focus on the Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Period and review the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. Discussion will include important information regarding the types of notices individuals will receive, consumer messaging, and the ways libraries can help inform individuals of their health care options. This webinar will provide valuable information for libraries in both the Middle Atlantic and New England Regions. 

New Version of MedlinePlus Mobile

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

[NLM Announcement]

Today, MedlinePlus released new versions of the MedlinePlus Mobile sites in English and Spanish. The mobile site URLs are and

Like the original versions of the mobile sites, the redesigned sites are optimized for mobile phones and tablets.  Unlike the original mobile sites that contained only a subset of the information available on MedlinePlus, the new sites have all of the content found on MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español.  They also have an improved design for easier use on mobile devices.

The key features of the redesigned mobile sites are:

Access to all the content available on MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español . Improved navigation using “Menu” and “Search” menus to access search and major areas of the sites . Enhanced page navigation with the ability to open and close sections within pages . Updated look and feel with a refreshed design

This new version of MedlinePlus Mobile is the first step in redesigning MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español to behave responsively.  Responsively designed Web sites automatically change their layouts to fit the screen of the device on which they are viewed, whether that is a desktop monitor or a mobile touchscreen.

In 2015, the MedlinePlus team will release a fully responsive version of MedlinePlus to provide a consistent user experience from the desktop, tablet, or phone. This will remove the need for a separate mobile site. Users will then have one destination for MedlinePlus ( when using any device.

Until then, try out this first offering of MedlinePlus’s responsive design on your smartphone at and Send us your feedback and comments about the new site via the Contact Us link that appears on every page.

Announcement from:

Stephanie Narva Dennis, MLS
Head, Health Information Products Unit – Trusted Health Information for You National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
301-435-4898  |

Take Action: Be a Health Literacy Hero

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region invites you to attend a free workshop for librarians and others interested to learn more about health literacy.

Keynote Speaker: Helen Osborne,
Date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 (snow date: December 5)
Location: University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
Time: 9:30 AM – 2:15 PM

Register here.

Bring a colleague! We encourage you to invite a current or potential health literacy project partner.


Continental breakfast (9 – 9:30 AM)

Health Literacy: What It Is, Why It Matters, How You Can Help (9:30 AM -11 AM)

Helen Osborne will present an overview about health literacy, highlighting not only what it is and why it matters but also how health science librarians and their clinical colleagues can help. The goal is for participants to gain a clearer understanding about the importance of health literacy and an eagerness to explore ways of taking action. Topics include:

  • What health literacy is and why it matters in treatment and care.
  • Six factors that can affect an individual’s health understanding.
  • Best practices and practical strategies to improve health literacy.

Conversation with Librarians about Health Literacy (11:15 AM – 12:15 PM)

Explore how librarians contribute to health literacy. Michelle Eberle will highlight strategies for librarians and information professionals outlined in the National Action Plan for Health Literacy. Helen Osborne will facilitate a conversation with three librarians with expertise in providing health literacy services. Speakers include:

  • Irena Bond, Library Manager, Blais Family Library, MCPHS University
  • Margo Coletti, Director IS/ Knowledge Services, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Anne Conner, Director, Gale Medical Library, Littleton Regional Healthcare
  • Nancy Goodwin, Director, Library and Knowledge Services, Middlesex Hospital

Lunch (12:15 – 1 PM) Book signing with Helen Osborne author of, Health Literacy from A-Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message

Take action: Be a Health Literacy Hero (1 PM – 2:15 PM)

In this dynamic session, Helen Osborne will lead a series of activities designed to help participants move from general health literacy know-how to specific and realistic action planning. Topics include:

  • Identifying key concepts heard, learned, or introduced to today.
  • Brainstorming effective and practical ways to improve health understanding.
  • Overcoming obstacles when putting health literacy into practice.
  • Identifying at least one action to take as a result of today’s conference. In other words, finding ways to be a Health Literacy Hero.

About Helen Osborne:

Helen is the president of Health Literacy Consulting based in Natick, Massachusetts. She produces and hosts the Health Literacy Out Loud podcast. She is also the founder of Health Literacy Month – a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the importance of understandable health information. Helen’s award-winning book, Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message is considered by many as the most important health literacy reference today.

Details: Parking vouchers and lunch will be provided.

Travel reimbursement:  We can fund travel expenses for several librarians.  If you are interested to apply for travel reimbursement, please send Michelle Eberle a letter about your interest in the event, how you will apply what you learn,  and your reimbursement request (# of miles and if you need a hotel).

Sponsored by: the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region’s Health Literacy Community of Interest and the Peters Health Sciences Library at Rhode Island Hospital

Conference Planners:  Anne-Marie Kaminsky and Michelle Eberle



Please visit WP-Admin > Options > Snap Shots and enter the Snap Shots key. How to find your key