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Public Libraries

The purpose of NNLM’s strategic focus on public libraries is to develop long-term partnerships and collaborations that bring NLM’s information resources to the community.

The goal of this national initiative is to promote health information literacy by equipping library staff with effective skills and high-quality resources to meet the needs of consumers.

Get Involved with Your Region

In 1998, NNLM began working with public libraries to connect consumers with NLM health information resources. 

NNLM regions offer professional development awards, opportunities for consumer health information specialization certification, programming ideas, educational materials, staff training in your library, funding for health outreach, and other activities. 

Contact your region to find out about opportunities near you!

Current National Projects

Below are the current national initiatives and projects that the Network has for public libraries.

1. Libraries Transform Health Literacy Toolkit

The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) and The American Library Association (ALA) have partnered through the Libraries Transform public awareness campaign to create a free toolkit for Health Literacy Month, which is observed in October.  

NNLM and ALA’s partnership will equip library professionals with customizable tools to raise awareness of how libraries support health literacy in their communities. The toolkit will provide key messages, program ideas and downloadable marketing materials, including bookmark templates and social media graphics, for libraries to use as they promote health literacy in October and throughout the year. The wide-ranging array of health literacy topics covered include nutrition, aging, and chronic illness.

Libraries Transform Because Libraries are Partners in a Healthy Community

2. Promoting Healthy Communities (a Public Library Association Partnership)

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This project is meant to establish a long-term, strategic partnership between NNLM and the Public Library Association (PLA).

Project outcomes are:

  • Enhanced NNLM resources meet the health information knowledge needs of public library staff; 
  • Improved confidence in addressing user health information needs due to public library staff’s increased awareness and knowledge of services and resources through NNLM; and
  • Sustained efforts engaging public library staff in NNLM’s consumer health information services.

3. Consumer Health Information Specialization Bootcamps

The purpose of this project is to equip public library staff with Medical Library Association (MLA) Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) certification. The specialization is for those who want to keep current in the consumer health information field and obtain an additional, recognized level of expertise. 
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This project is designed to:

  • Support the design, delivery, and evaluation of an online curriculum for public library staff on NLM, NIH, and federal government consumer health resources;
  • Offer the curriculum in cohorts of up to 90 public library staff; and
  • Create a sustainable process for updating and delivering the program in the future.

Learn more about the MLA CHIS: http://www.mlanet.org/page/chis

Earn your CHIS: https://nnlm.gov/gmr/guides/public-libraries/earn-your-chis

4. IMLS-COSLA Measures that Matter

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) joint project Measures that Matter is aimed to examine, evaluate, and map the landscape of public library data collection in the United States. The project will develop a Library Data and Outcomes Action Plan with key library stakeholder groups for a more coordinated approach to the collection of public library data nationally. NNLM is one of the key stakeholder groups contributing to the development of the Plan. Follow Measures that Matter at: http://measuresthatmatter.net/