Health InfoNet of Alabama (a University of Alabama
at Birmingham-sponsored project) is a cooperative consumer health information
service of the UAB Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences and the
Jefferson and Shelby County Public Libraries. Health InfoNet started
in 1999 as Health InfoNet of Jefferson County, and changed its name in
2002 after expanding its service area to Shelby County. The ultimate
goal is to expand the service statewide.
Although the network is set up to maximize use of
the best health information sources available, regardless of format,
the Health InfoNet website (www.healthinfonet.org)
has always played a key role, particularly as a referral source to local
health information resources and providers, as well as to premier national
resources such as MedlinePlus. The opportunity to participate in the
MedlinePlus Go Local project would fit well with some of Health InfoNet's
highest aspirations and goals. Indeed, it was at the recent NN/LM-sponsored
statewide health information planning meeting in Birmingham (March 11-12,
2004), that the director of the Alabama Public Library Service, Rebecca
Mitchell, and the Health InfoNet coordinator, Kay Hogan Smith, first
discussed the idea and agreed that there was a real need for expanding
the Health InfoNet model across the state.
After considerable thought and discussion amongst
the network libraries' staff and the Health InfoNet advisory board (for
a list of current board members, see http://hinfonet.lhl.uab.edu/advisorycommitte.htm), we
have decided to request participation as an NLM-supported site rather
than a locally supported site. The Health InfoNet site has been
a focal point for the service from the beginning. (Health InfoNet was
awarded a $40,000 subcontract from the National Library of Medicine in
2000 to overhaul the site as part of the Health Information for the Public
initiative.) However, in anticipation of the added demands of coordinating
a statewide network, the benefits of this option outweighed the slight
loss of local autonomy that might favor the second. Accordingly, this
proposal will discuss the requirements listed in the “NLM Supported” column
on the Proposal Checklist (Attachment 1).
The Alabama Public Library Service (APLS), the state
library agency responsible for providing library services directly or
indirectly through local public libraries, has been enlisted as a primary
partner in this effort to expand the Health InfoNet services statewide
as well as in the specific tasks related to this MedlinePlus Go Local
proposal (see below). The Alabama Health Libraries Association (ALHeLA)
has also agreed to help recruit volunteers to assist in this initiative.
Criteria – As a Health on the Net Foundation member site, Health InfoNet
has always maintained a very selective approach to adding new health
information resources to its Support/Referral Organizations database
(see http://hinfonet.lhl.uab.edu/contacts.htm). The
Infonet “Linking Guidelines” (http://hinfonet.lhl.uab.edu/linkingguide.htm)
specify our selection criteria for websites, as follows:
is given to local health information resources.
should be of an educational or informational nature, not commercial.
should be authoritative and up-to-date, with the date of the last revision
provided should be evidence-based, preferably including cited references.
should be stable with a minimum of URL changes; should be easy to navigate
provided should strive for a balanced viewpoint, particularly in respect
to complementary therapies.
which adhere to HON
Foundation principles will be given preference.
(Although certified, allopathic medical health care providers and services
are currently included on the Health InfoNet website, this selection should
probably be expanded to include not only other such resources around the state,
but also complementary and alternative care providers. Those providers
and services with websites should adhere to these same standards with perhaps
an additional link from each resource to the National Center for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine's, “Selecting a complementary and alternative medicine
practitioner” page at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/practitioner/index.htm.)
Information on Services Statewide - Will build on existing network of
local public libraries and library consortia as well as expanding network
of contacts with health care providers and health organizations to collect
information on health services and resources statewide. In particular,
the Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) will identify and contact public
libraries in all of the counties of the state to solicit their input
as to local area health services, resources and providers. APLS
will then be the collection source for public libraries to send information
to be included on the website for the project. An online “Suggest a Site” page
similar to the NC HealthInfo project website's (see http://www.nchealthinfo.org/suggest.cfm)
should also be available.
Resources - The project director, Kay Hogan Smith, will (at least initially),
do most of the indexing of resources herself, although she expects to
be able to recruit qualified volunteers from the participating libraries
(including Lister Hill Library staff) to assist her with this requirement.
to Attribute/Date Local Resources – Resources selected for indexing will
be notified of their selection and encouraged to label and date any web
pages or other resources provided as suggested by the “Linking Guidelines” (see
for Keeping Information Current – Through an email distribution list
of key contacts from resource institutions, augmented by a telephone
contact list as needed, Kay will set up a (mostly) automated system of
regular reminders to those institutions as well as their county libraries
for updates to their directory information.
the Go Local Controlled Vocabulary – Willing to use this controlled vocabulary
g. Timeline –
publicizing Go Local project among state public libraries via Alabama
Public Library Service as soon as confirmation of participation is received
from NLM; begin identifying key library contacts in each county; encourage
those contacts to submit appropriate health resources for indexing in
their counties (Spring 2004)
Go Local project among current participating health care organizations
and providers in Health InfoNet to advise them of changes (Spring 2004)
at NLM (May 27, 2004)
indexing resources for Go Local system (June 2004)
promoting Go Local project in Alabama media outlets (Summer/Fall 2004)
training public libraries' staff in Health InfoNet procedures; begin
recruiting volunteers to assist in record creation, indexing and maintenance
Health InfoNet website to Go Local site as soon as new site is indexed
and ready for use (Fall/Winter 2004/05)
recruited volunteers in creating and indexing new resources; set up automated
update reminders to contacts around the state (Winter 2004/05)
Salaried Project Director – It is the general consensus of those involved
in this project that the coordinator of Health InfoNet, Kay Hogan Smith,
should fill this role. (See attached curriculum vitae.)
Needed to Create, Index and Maintain Records – Besides the project director,
there are over 1,500 fulltime staff in the 207 Alabama public libraries
of whom over 240 are MLS professionals. It is from this population that volunteers to help create and maintain
the records will be recruited.
Support to Maintain Inputting Computers - The UAB Office of the Vice
President for Information Technology (OVPIT) provides a base level of
centrally administered technology services to all members of the UAB
community – 14 fulltime desktop support staff, 14 customer support staff,
server management group of 7, and an application development support
team of 5. APLS has an Information Technology staff consisting of one
supervisor, one circuit rider technician and one inhouse technician at
present. The agency is in the process of hiring two additional
circuit rider technicians to assist the public librarians with technology
issues. They will be available to work with Lister Hill as they
provide technical assistance to the public libraries using MedlinePlus
Go Local project.
or Staff to Handle Record Creation and Maintenance/Plan to Recruit Volunteers
and Staff – Initially record creation and maintenance will be the responsibility
of the project director herself. However, as expansion of the Health
InfoNet network statewide requires training of newly participating public
libraries' staff in medical reference as well as Health InfoNet policies
and procedures, these training sessions could also be natural opportunities
to recruit volunteers around the state to assist the project director
with this responsibility. In addition, APLS has a Strategic
Planning Committee made up of 25 public library directors from across
the state. This committee represents all areas of the state
and all sizes of public libraries. This committee will be the core
group of librarians that can identify volunteers to work with the creation
of records and the maintenance of those records of the project.
for Providing Customer Service for the Site – As has been the case to
now, Kay Hogan Smith's email address will continue to be the link for “Comments
about this website” on the web pages.
Available for Volunteers/Staff with Internet, Web Browsers and Necessary
Plug-Ins – Project Director has a new Dell Pentium 4 laptop (Inspiron
5150) with Internet access, Internet Explorer 6.0, and various audiovisual
plug-ins loaded (with capacity for others as needed). Other volunteers
must also have adequate computer access and support to be accepted.
and Repair Broken or Problem Links – Through network of participating
library and organization contacts, the project director should be able
to efficiently and quickly troubleshoot and repair errors in links following
receipt of link reports from NLM.
the Site in the Region – Expanding on the traditional Health InfoNet
approach to PR without extensive funding, we will exhibit at health fairs
and other appropriate low-cost exhibit opportunities, speak at local
community organization meetings and submit press releases to media outlets
across the state. (Again, the project director will recruit volunteers
from the public libraries around the state to help her in these tasks.)
In addition, a prominent link to the site should be created on every
participating library website.
Outreach for Collection Development – Through these promotions effort,
especially in the speaking engagements and exhibit opportunities, there
should be equivalent opportunities to learn about resources and services
in the local areas to add to the Go Local database in Health InfoNet.
In addition, outreach efforts targeting specific populations of both
consumers and health care providers and organizations are likely to continue
to be a part of Health InfoNet's mission. (We are currently wrapping
up the “Healthy Spirit” health information access project, targeting
adult African American men, which was funded by the National Network
of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern Atlantic region, in 2002.)
Promotion Efforts Quarterly – The project director is familiar with quarterly
reporting requirements from previous subcontracts, and she does not expect
any difficulty meeting this requirement.