Bridging Health Information Gaps at the Public Library
Access to reliable health information for vulnerable populations: Vulnerable populations often reflect diversity from a number of perspectives. Diversity is frequently defined by social and demographic characteristics such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. As PPL considers those segments of our patron and user base who are most vulnerable, we believe this initiative can serve the needs of Portland's teen population, homeless population, and the Immigrant/refugee segments of our community. Health literacy: As an organization that seeks to ?be the civic and cultural center of a dynamic region in which citizens are literate, informed, and engaged,? PPL has placed high organizational value on supporting our patrons and users as they build their health literacy. Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Because this literacy is dependent on both individual and systemic factors, this project seeks to give individuals practical, easy-to-access tools to build their own health literacy and also to build and strengthen the Library's partnerships with other local resources to ensure a continued high level of attention to the health needs of these particular population groups. Making patrons better-informed patients: Patients should be involved in making decisions about their own health care. We use the term ?informed shared decision making? to describe decisions that are shared by doctor and patient and informed by best evidence, not only about risks and benefits but also a patient's specific characteristics and values. This project will contribute to this dynamic by educating patients so they can exercise these health-related rights and duties more effectively.