On June 7, I headed north on Route 70 to visit the Bigelow Free Library in Clinton, MA. The drive through rural Central Massachusetts is pretty–farms and green, open space. When I arrived, Library Director Marie Mueller greeted me and walked me downstairs to the “For All of the People” exhibit. Marie is actively promoting health-related programming at her small library. A recipient of LSTA’s Framework for Health Literacy award, Bigelow Free Library is making a push to raise awareness of the public library’s role in health literacy.
This spring, Bigelow Free Library offered a diabetes self-management series for Spanish speakers, hosted off-site by nearby Clinton Hospital. For the summer, the library offers a weekly walking program in an adjacent park with a monthly “Walk with a Doc”. Participants have an opportunity to walk and talk with a doctor. For an at-home learning opportunity, the library website features a link to a recent PLA podcast on health literacy.
I met Marie virtually when she participated in NNLM NER’s Community Health Engagement COI. Glad for the opportunity to visit her library, I am impressed with everything she is doing.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) administers a traveling exhibition program. These exhibitions run the gamut from forensic medicine to intoxicants to Harry Potter. The “For All the People” exhibit takes us through the history of the health care reform debate. The publicly visible part of the exhibit is several banners for display. NLM provides lesson plans and a bibliography for programming ideas.
The first banner takes us to the early 20th century, when labor unions and the Urban League raised concerns about high rates of accidents, disease and infant mortality. Moving into the 1920’s, the next banner focuses on citizen groups partnering with doctors and nurses to bring health care into the community. The next banner highlights activist groups, such as the Black Panthers and farm workers organizations, that opened clinics and food pantries in their neighborhoods. The feminist health movement (anyone remember Our Bodies, Ourselves?) and AIDS activists are featured on another banner. The exhibit concludes with a banner on the 21st century conflicts over the Affordable Care Act and the controversy surrounding delayed care at the Veterans Health Administration hospitals.
If you are traveling through Central Massachusetts, I encourage you to stop into the Bigelow Free Library (54 Walnut Street, Clinton, MA 01510). The library is open Tue-Sat. The exhibit will be up until July 15. Please check the website for hours and updated information.
To learn more about NLM’s Traveling Exhibitions, please check the History of Medicine webpage.