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Health and Wellness @ the Library: The Essentials of Providing Consumer Health Services

Centered around eight core competencies, this interactive 4-week online course provides a rich learning experience to build all the essential skills for providing consumer health information services.

The course starts by preparing you with tools to learn the demographics and health status of people in your community. Together we will examine issues of literacy, health literacy, and the health information needs of special populations. By understanding the needs of your own community and the information-seeking behaviors of users, you will be prepared with the right tools and resources even before the questions are asked.

From there we will explore authoritative resources for just about any type of health question, apps and mobile health technologies, how people are using social networking for health questions, and how to create fun and informative health-related programming for different age groups and special populations in your community. Participants will learn about core print reference and other materials for library collections, quality web resources beyond the major sites, and tips for helping library users evaluate health materials they encounter on their own.

A new topic area each week will expand on familiar concepts and provide exposure to new concepts, techniques and resources to take your skills to the next level. At the beginning of Week 2, participants will start to explore topic areas for a final project of their choosing; projects relevant to the attendee's workplace are encouraged!

This course is also offered as a 4-hour in-person class.


    Week 1: Consumer Health Basics

    • Understanding the community
    • Characteristics and needs of users as they seek health information
    • The role and limitations of library staff as health information providers
    • Literacy and health literacy: definitions, implications and strategies

    Week 2: Health Reference in the Real World

    • Unique aspects of health reference
    • Legal, ethical, and privacy issues
    • Techniques and resources for serving diverse users
    • Evaluation criteria and helping users evaluate health materials

    Week 3: Health Resources: There's a (book, web site, app) for that

    • Best health websites for diseases, conditions, therapies, wellness, and more
    • Finding special content – multimedia, easy-to-read and multilingual materials
    • Choosing, evaluating, and weeding core reference and circulating materials
    • Guidance about using mobile technologies and social networking sites for health information

    Week 4: The Library as a Healthy Place

    • Designing health programs of interest to users in the community
    • Effective promotion and marketing of health information services
    • How partnerships can enhance services and extend the reach of the library
    • Incorporating workplace wellness into your library

    Continuing Education

    Online Course: With completion of all required assignments, discussion, and course evaluation, participants will receive 12.0 MLA continuing education credits. This class also satisfies the requirements for Level I and Level II CHIS (Consumer Health Information Specialization.)

    In-person class: The 4-hour course is a modified version of the online course, with each hour corresponding to content in weeks 1-4 of the online course agenda. Participants in this CHIS-approved class will earn 4 MLA CE units.

    Time Required

    To complete all the course requirements for the MLA CE credit, participants can expect to spend on average 3-4 hours per week. Participants may also choose to work towards a certificate of completion without CE credit, which would require about 2-3 hours per week. Each week's module contains readings and selected content, discussion questions, and assignments. You can choose the options most relevant to your work and interests. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night, it is recommended that you complete each week's work within that week to stay in sync with other learners. There are some deadlines and requirements for active participation throughout the course. An extra “catch-up” week will be available at the end of the course, in case you need extra time to finish all the activities and course requirements.



    Learners will be able to:

    • Explain the concept of consumer health and how the library helps to build healthy communities
    • Find and utilize community health data to understand and respond to the most pressing health issues in the community
    • Understand and respond to the health information needs of different types of users
    • Identify and choose authoritative health information resources that are appropriate for particular users
    • Evaluate the quality of health information in a variety of formats, and apply criteria for collection development of consumer health materials
    • Feel comfortable and confident communicating and providing health reference to diverse users
    • Explain the difference between literacy and health literacy
    • Teach users how to use resources, find information, and recognize the elements of trustworthy materials and the warning signs of dubious health information
    • Understand the ethical and legal issues about providing health information
    • Plan health-related programming and events
    Class Length: 
    4-week online; 4-hour in-person
    Course Owner(s):
    Dana Abbey, Colorado/Community Engagement Coordinator
    Dana Abbey, Colorado/Community Engagement Coordinator
    Continuing Education:
    This class is eligible for Consumer Health Information Specialization continuing education credit awarded by the Medical Library Association.

    Past Classes

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