Presentations from the International Congress of Medical Librarianship (ICML) are now available in the University of Queensland (UQ) repository. http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/collection/UQ:318428
Category Archives: Health Literacy
ALIA is the national body representing librarians, information specialists, library technicians, and information science academics in Australia. I recently joined the Health Libraries Australia special interest group as an executive member (my membership became active in July after I finished my term as Chair of the Information Resources Group (HTAi)), and I thought that I should attend the Victorian NAC meeting. It was held at the university were I did my undergraduate degree and I hadn’t been back (apart from a reunion) since. Boy had the library changed! I didn’t recognise it. Of course, a lot can happen in a library over 20 (gasp!) years. The meeting was to discuss the ALIA discussion paper ‘Future of the Profession‘ and to solicit ideas from Victorian ALIA members. Two issues stood out for me – one that keeps on reoccuring again and again and the other a new one to me but valid and applicable in all types of libraries. The reoccuring one is Visability. The other is the superficiality of information trends and technology. How do you deal with these issues? I almost groaned aloud when the discussion leader said that a public librarian in Perth had been ‘caught’ going to Google for an answer to a question. I would have turned it into an educational opportunity – show people how to search for the answer using the tools that they use frequently! What would you have done?
I attended this forum hosted by the Royal Women’s Hospital late last month and I think I was the only medical librarian there. To me, this was bad news. Health literacy includes information literacy and if health professionals have poor information literacy, health literacy programs run by health professionals are doomed. As an information professional in the healthcare field who is also involved in a health literacy program, I run a lot of education sessions for hospital staff on various topics. The health literacy program I am involved in is for the public and free, but health professionals were attending too. Is something wrong here?
The first presenter, Dr Rima Rudd was a good speaker and her presentation covered literacy, how people learn in the community as well as how information is presented to patients. The important point she wanted to convey was that people with poor health literacy have less political power and have poorer health outcomes. Dr Karen Luxford repeated part of what Rudd said but added information about the Australian context. Dr Sophie Hill gave some practical examples of what Cochrane Consumers & Communication Review Group is doing and then there were some presentations about various projects. Dr Nicola Dunbar from the ACSQHC talked about how standards can help improve patient experience. A mixed bag really. So what was the outcome of this forum? Attendees expressed interest in creating a network where they can all contribute and there is a basic Facebook page which I have yet to look at because it is blocked here at work.
I am certain that medical and health librarians have a vital part to play in improving health literacy, and librarians and libraries in general. Move beyond the echo chamber!