Interest in consumer health information has blossomed since the mid-twentieth century. Consumers have become much more involved in decisions related to their health care and in seeking information about health issues. Public libraries, as community organizations, have a long history of facilitating access to health information, and currently offer important resources such as computers and free Wi-Fi that facilitate access, especially for people who do not have computers or Internet at home. With the ubiquity and ease of access to online health information, however, various challenges arise. Consumers often lack the knowledge or ability to find information or to evaluate critically the information they find. Many public librarians also often have limited proficiency or experience in helping patrons with their health-related information needs. Although there are various opportunities for public librarians to obtain training in health information, library and information science students considering public librarianship are often not aware that there is a benefit, as well as a responsibility, to becoming knowledgeable about health information. This article discusses issues related to health information access as it relates to public libraries, and suggests practice-based options that could be useful for students preparing for careers in public libraries.


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pp. 37-51
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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