Reaching out to consumer health information users through academic and public/community libraries partnership: Experience from Kenya
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Consumer health information has gained prominence worldwide due to the need for preventive as opposed to curative healthcare. Availability of diverse online consumer health information (CHI) sources necessitates that public library users become aware of quality CHI sources as they make important healthcare decisions. An academic library received a grant for a project on the promotion of consumer health literacy through public and community libraries in Central and Upper Eastern Kenya. The first phase of the project carried out a CHI resources training and provided seed money to two public libraries to acquire consumer health books. The second phase of the project forms the basis of this paper aimed to examine the impact of the first phase by evaluating the application of the information literacy skills gained during the training and by assessing the use of the consumer health collection by the public. A qualitative approach and survey design were used. Data was collected from twelve users and nine librarians who were purposely selected for a Focused Group Interview (FGI). An observation guide was also used during physical visits on selected public and community libraries. The results show that many public/community libraries established health corners/hub after attending the training. There was an increase in queries and demand for e-resources on diseases and general lifestyle information, a change of attitude by staff and users towards CHI, improved customer care services, and heightened image and value of a librarian in the provision of CHI. Challenges faced included semi-illiteracy among the public, users’ insufficient time to visit libraries, inadequate training skills and knowledge among library staff, and insufficient funding. The paper concludes that partnership between academic and public/community libraries in reaching out consumer health information users was inevitable and significant in fostering community health development.
SCECSAL(Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern African Library and Information Associations)
Subjectconsumer health information
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