Health Sciences Report Summer 2003

From the Bookshelf
Hope Fox Eccles Clinical Library Expands Service to Hospital Patients, Visitors
By Polly Richman

"Wouldn't it be great," thought librarian Liz Workman, M.L.I.S., "if, instead of lying there worrying about the 'what ifs?' and 'whys?' of an illness, a hospital patient could just pad down the hall to a quiet, comfortable little library and get some facts?"

The idea prompted Workman, manager of the Hope Fox Eccles Clinical Library, to propose a new direction for the facility on the fourth floor of University of Utah Hospital.

Two years later, the library has become a resource not just for clinicians in a hurry, but for patients and visitors as well.

Founded in 1983 by a generous gift from Hope Fox Eccles, wife of Spencer S. Eccles, the library originally was conceived as a branch of the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. Essential practitioner-oriented texts and journals would be located closer to clinicians and instantly accessible in an emergency or at odd hours when the larger library was closed.

That need continues, and the clinical library is still open from 6 a.m. to midnight every day of the year. But Workman noticed that, as more information became available online, fewer clinical staff were using the satellite facility.

At the same time, Workman said, patients were hearing about the library and coming to it for medical information. The computers were becoming a magnet, too, drawing patients who dropped by to check e-mails from home and looked on the Net for consumer-oriented health resources couched in more comfortable terms than what they could find on the shelves.

But not all health information on the Net is reliable or has been evaluated. As a result, the library, in conjunction with the main health sciences library, has selected a collection of reliable online consumer resources linked to both libraries' Web sites. From the Hope Fox Eccles Library Web site, there's a link to the Utah Consumer Health Information Network, which has a wealth of health information for the lay reader, including lists of local resources and community services.

A click on "Consumer Resources from the Eccles Library Reference Staff" produces links to scores of other sites that provide accessible information about everything from "aging and gerontology" to "world health."

Even patients who don't speak English can find help at the Hope Fox Eccles Clinical Library. Health information is provided online in 24 languages, from Arabic to Vietnamese, in collaboration with the Utah Department of Health, thanks to a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA).

For those who have difficulty reading, Workman says a $10,000 grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine will enable the library to create sound files for most of the 24 languages. Narrated by native speakers and recorded in the digital video lab at the Eccles Health Sciences Library, they will be available online for downloading or listening.

Besides these online advances, the library has undergone other changes. For patients or visitors wanting to take a book back to their hospital or waiting room, a growing collection of consumer health books occupies its own shelf next to the clinical books and journals. Titles like Diabetes Recipe Book, 50 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol, and Women Are Not Small Men catch the eye. For those looking for something to help pass the time, the library offers popular fiction and nonfiction by the likes of Elmore Leonard, Joan Lunden, and Colin Powell.

Workman's future book orders will reflect patrons' requests and will come from bibliographies she either receives from the Medical Library Association or finds in medical reference journals. In addition to these sources, "donations are always welcome," she added.

The most visible changes to the library have resulted from fund-raising efforts. Thanks to $22,000 in donations from the library's endowment and the hospital's own Community Outreach and Volunteer Services, the library features new furniture and new bookshelves.

A new scanner also has been purchased, making it easier for clinicians and consumers to print a page or two from a text for ready reference.

Although a formalized checkout system has not yet been developed, patients and visitors may leave their i.d. at the desk and borrow a book for a few hours. For staff needing information after hours, a security guard will let them into the library, where they may use resources on site.

For more information, contact the Hope Fox Eccles Clinical Library at 581-4686, or stop by room 4037 in University Hospital.

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Health Sciences Report is mailed to faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University of Utah School of Medicine; to the staffs of University Hospitals & Clinics, University of Utah Medical Group, Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, Huntsman Cancer Institute, John A. Moran Eye Center, and Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library; and to the faculties and alumni of the colleges of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health. Articles may be reprinted with permission.

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