By Alan Backer
The Alabama Health Libraries Association (ALHeLA) is reintroducing the Health InfoNet service to the state of Alabama. The taskforce for this project is currently conducting a multi-part needs assessment with public librarians across Alabama to help make the relaunch of Health InfoNet a lasting success. Health InfoNet of Alabama began in 1999 as a partnership between UAB’s Lister Hill Library and 40 public libraries in Jefferson County, Alabama, under the leadership of Lister Hill librarian Kay Hogan Smith. Their mission was to provide Alabama residents with easier access to trustworthy health information, as well as help train public library workers in disseminating health information. Over the ensuing 10 years, Health InfoNet’s reach expanded statewide with the help of NLM’s Go Local program, which ended in 2010.
Since the end of the Go Local program and the exit of key personnel, Health InfoNet paused its outreach to Alabama residents and public libraries. The goal of the current taskforce’s mixed methods study is to rediscover the health information needs of public library reference workers and the types of health- related questions they typically encounter. This will be achieved through the distribution of a detailed survey and the gathering of focus groups from survey respondents. The resulting data will help inform the contents of the Health InfoNet’s revamped website and outreach strategy. Funding for the needs assessment is being provided by a research grant from the Southern Chapter of the Medical Library Association (SCMLA).
Reprinted from SCMLA Southern Expressions with permission