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Public Library Spotlight: Monique Mason, Manager, Science & Technology Division, Akron-Summit County Public Library, Ohio

Posted by on August 23rd, 2017 Posted in: Public Libraries, Public Libraries Spotlight
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photo of the , Akron-Summit County Public Library Main branch

Name: Monique Mason

Title: Manager, Science & Technology Division, Akron (Ohio)-Summit County Public Library

Education: Master of Library Science (yes, just that, it was a long time ago), 1990, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

How did you become interested in focusing on Health and Wellness?

Quite by accident!  When I started working in the Science & Technology Division as a librarian in 2008, there were already several librarians who were involved in creating our consumer health collection and programming for that area.  It wasn’t until 2012 when I became head of the division and noticed all those knowledgeable and dedicated librarians had retired that I realized I needed to get involved with this subject.  I have made it a goal for all public service staff in our division to become Consumer Health Information Specialists within one year of being hired. We regularly attend NLM training to keep our skills sharpened, we actively engage with our local public health department to broaden our reach and are out in our community promoting our Health Information Center on a regular basis.

Why is health literacy important in your community?

We are each our own best advocates for our health and well-being.  Being able to critically examine health news and information, decide what is valid and what is not will allow each of us to make the best lifestyle choices and to get the best health care possible.

What’s challenging about providing health information in the public library?

Public library staff answer so many different sorts of questions all day. The ability to slow down and offer the thoughtful, compassionate, and detailed reference service required by a patron who may be distressed by a diagnosis can be difficult among all the competing demands to troubleshoot a printer/find a recipe/look up a barcode/download an ebook/find the torque specs for someone’s car tires …  That, and medical lingo is like a foreign language.

What’s the impact that you hope to make in your community?

To foster a sense of responsibility for our own health. To help the citizens of Akron, Ohio, realize they can take charge of their healthcare, can learn about the conditions and illnesses they face, discover the best course of treatment, and work to implement that care in tandem with their health care provider; and to discover the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and to realize they can make choices which will impact their health for the rest of their lives.

What is your favorite health related program or outreach that you’ve done? 

Hmmm.. this is tough.  We do a lot of programming at my library.  Here’s two:

  1. We started a seed sharing library in 2013. This allows us to have both informal conversations and more structured programming about the importance of healthy food choices and the health benefits of gardening and other physical activity.
  2. Each summer for the past few years we have hosted a weekly lunchtime Tai Chi class in front of our Main Library. It is so fun to see thirty or so people from all walks of life doing Tai Chi on the sidewalk on Main Street in Akron, Ohio.  And, perhaps most amazingly for rain-prone northeast Ohio, we have never had to bring this program indoors because of weather.

We are hosting a webinar from Monique in September, “I’m a Librarian, Not a Doctor! Providing Health Information to Public Library Customers” register today!

Image of the author ABOUT Bobbi Newman
Bobbi is from Iowa and was delighted to return here to join the GMR. She divides her time between watching her Beta fish, reading fantasy and nonfiction, playing video games, and gardening.

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This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Grant Number 1UG4LM012346-01 with The University of Iowa.

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