During National Public Health Week (April 3-9, 2017), the Public Library Association is highlighting the work public libraries do in advancing the health and health literacy of Americans. A 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey conducted by the Information Policy & Action Center found that public libraries in the U.S. advance equal access to health information in many important ways. Sixty percent of the public libraries surveyed help patrons identify health insurance resources, 58% help patrons locate and evaluate free online health information, and 48% help patrons understand specific health or wellness topics. Some libraries even offer direct access to health programming: 23% of those surveyed offer fitness classes and 18% offer selected health screening services.
PLA encourages its member libraries to participate in National Public Health Week by posting their health-related success stories and program examples on social media using the hashtag #HealthyCommunities. If you are interested in doing more health-related programming, check out the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. PLA was one of several organizations, along with the Institute of Medicine and the Red Cross – that contributed to this resource, which highlights actions that diverse organizations and professionals, including librarians, can take to improve health literacy. Also be sure to check out the three-part article series Health Happens in Libraries, which was featured last year in Public Libraries magazine.