The Kansas City Public Library
In January I had the honor of receiving funding from the NNLM for ALA Mid-Winter Pre-conference Implicit Bias, Health Disparities, and Health Literacy: Intersections in Health Equity. As the new Health and Wellness Librarian for the Kansas City (Missouri) Public Library system, I found the topic very relevant to my work. Health disparities in Kansas City among minorities are high, and many hospitals and organizations are working diligently to identify the root causes.
One of the topic areas mentioned was that of Implicit Bias among healthcare professionals. This topic was one of interest. Due to our social conditioning in this country providers are less likely to prescribe black and brown patients pain medications. As a public librarian and social worker, this information did not surprise me. However, it made me realize the power of the public library and how we can provide health literacy. Additionally, because my position is based on embedded librarianship, I have the capability to partner with community organizations and agencies and other non-profits to bring free health information programming into the library.
One example is with a local Non-profit Fight Back Diabetes that offers a free Q&A session with a doctor once a month on a Saturday. Each session features a specific topic about ways in which diabetes impacts the body. Also, to be held at the library each session is recorded via Facebook Live. Attendance for this program is starting to pick up. Our March session was the fullest yet with 10 participants.
Offering a program in a safe public space allows participants to ask doctors questions in an informal setting. Also, it provides doctors with opportunities to interact with patrons outside of their offices. This program is promising, and we are happy to host it within our library system.
Offering the Fight Back Diabetes Let’s Talk Diabetes program integrates many of the concepts discussed at the ALA Pre-conference. As we continue to look at health disparities in our country, I think we also need to look for health opportunities that are more relevant to the communities we work with. To partner with individuals who already do the work and building trust among our patrons. As a black woman doing community work on behalf of the library, it is always important to me that all of our partners reflect the patrons who enter the doors of our libraries every day. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the pre-conference and get new perspective and ideas on to better work with our patrons to address the root causes of health disparities, identify relevant health opportunities, and provide health literacy information in new creative ways.