U's Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library Wins National Award for Consumer Health Initiative

U's Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library Wins National Award for Consumer Health Initiative

Sep 2, 2004 6:00 PM

The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah has received a national award for a statewide initiative to provide Utah residents access to consumer health information and training via Internet connections at public libraries.

The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) recently gave the Eccles Library a 2004 NCLIS Blue Ribbon Consumer Health Information Recognition Award for the Utah Consumer Health Information Initiative. The honor goes to libraries that "do the most to promote healthy lifestyles," according to the NCLIS.

Beth Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., NCLIS chairperson, said the Utah Consumer Health Information Initiative's easy access to materials, training, and services, as well as its innovative creation and distribution of health information, results in "a healthier, well-informed community of users."

The health information initiative was launched last year with the aid of a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant. It's supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered through the Utah State Library Division.

The initiative is really a partnership between the Eccles Library and Utah public libraries, said project director Sally M. Patrick, MLS. Judging from the response of the public and librarians statewide, the program's first year has been a success, according to Patrick. Residents of rural areas particularly benefit from accessing health information through the Eccles Library and other sources.

"It's easy to overlook how rural parts of Utah are," she said. "Now residents from the Four Corners to the Idaho border can take advantage of all the resources available through the Eccles Library, government, and other sources."

Patrick and other Eccles Library staff have traveled more than 5,000 miles to train their counterparts in more than 40 of the state's 71 public library districts. Librarians in each community receive detailed instruction on health information resources available on the Internet, such as the federal government's Medline Plus (http://medlineplus.gov/), the National Library of Medicine's consumer health site, and the Utah Consumer Health Information Network.

As they train librarians across the state, Eccles staff emphasize that the initiative is a partnership with the goal of helping Utahns receive high-quality health information.

Wayne J. Peay, M.S., Eccles Library director, said the initiative is part of the library's goal to extend its services to as many Utahns as possible. "This also supports the mission of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center," Peay said.

Eccles Library staff also work closely with the Utah Telehealth Network, a 21-site system that gives the state's rural and medically underserved areas access to patient care and ongoing health education information. Telehealth conferences are conducted primarily through teleconferencing and high-speed Internet connections that allow U physicians to assist with such services as radiology, electronic pharmacy, and emergency burn trauma consultations for rural physicians hundreds of miles from University Hospital. The U of U's Utah Telehealth Program manages the Utah Telehealth Network.

The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library is a Regional Medical Library for the Mid-Continental Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.

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