Health Happens in Libraries

Community Assessment: Identify local health services and resources serving your community

Maintaining a general understanding of your local health infrastructure can help reinforce your library’s services to patrons with health information needs. Many individuals obtaining health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be accessing healthcare services more regularly, or even for the first time. They will benefit from library staff awareness of available local resources.

Understand your local health services landscape

  • The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) facilitates access to health information through a variety of resource, outreach, and training services, in collaboration with network members. Member services are provided to health information providers through Regional Medical Libraries, and membership is free. You can learn more about member services and the Regional Medical Library serving your state here. You can also learn more by accessing the WebJunction webinar archive on Health Information Resources for Library Staff, presented in collaboration with NN/LM representatives. 
  • State and local public health departments serving your community may have initiatives or resources available to support your library’s ACA marketplace or health information service priorities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides links to all state health department homepages, which can be searched for more local data.

  • Health centers are a critical part of the public health infrastructure, providing health care to community members regardless of their ability to pay. They have played an essential role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. You can identify health centers by location here, and learn more about their impact in communities at this fact-sheet.

  • Selecting a healthcare provider, service, or facility is an individual decision. It is influenced by a number of factors, including health or information needs, availability of local resources, and individual health insurance coverage. From Coverage to Care is an initiative that has multi-media resources in a number of formats and languages to help individuals understand how to most effectively use their new health insurance in a local context. MedlinePlus also provides free access to directories which identify health libraries, professionals, services and facilities in unique locations.