by Rebekah Tweed Fox
Instruction and Outreach Librarian
Mount Saint Mary’s University
Los Angeles, CA
In 2017, Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) launched a comprehensive wellness movement, “Mount Wellness,” to help its community become, and remain, healthier. The MSMU Libraries, in an effort to support the campus initiative, created a plan to reach students through their own wellness efforts in three different ways.
The MSMU Libraries received an outreach mini-award from the NNLM Pacific Southwest Region, and with this support, the first goal was to create and promote a physical space within the J. Thomas McCarthy Library dedicated to healthy furniture and the promotion of reliable medical resources. Next, a drop-in workshop was conducted within the library, for students, faculty, and staff. The workshop introduced the MSMU community to the new active space and demonstrated MedlinePlus as a valuable alternative to other less reliable web resources, or Googling, for everyday medical queries. Lastly, the libraries partnered with the Wellness Department by adding a librarian-led training one-shots for campus Peer Wellness Advocates. These MSMU peer coaches worked with fellow students to promote a healthier student life. The library viewed this opportunity as an opportunity to branch out to other students, who may never use the library.
Peer Wellness Advocate Training
In the Fall of 2017, the MSMU Wellness Department hired eighteen students to act as Peer Wellness Advocates for other MSMU students and to discuss wellness related issues and promote healthy campus life. We believed that working with these students, and training them to use reliable research resources, would be a valuable tool for their work. In November of 2017, Instruction and Outreach Librarian, Rebekah Tweed Fox, held three one-hour training sessions to teach the Peer Wellness Advocates the basics in how to navigate MedlinePlus. During these training sessions, she covered common “Googleable” questions, such as “how to treat symptoms of the common cold” and “common reasons for a headache.” Other highlights of the instruction session included navigating the Spanish language resources and how to locate printouts for students seeking specific information.
At the end of April, we followed up with our Peer Wellness Advocates to see how they used MedlinePlus throughout the spring semester. The students overwhelmingly agreed or strongly agreed that the training helped their ability to find useful health information, that they used at least one tool demonstrated in the session during the semester, and that they planned to use MedlinePlus in the future. We viewed this response as very positive feedback and will plan on hosting additional trainings for new Peer Wellness Advocates next fall.
Wellness in the Library Workshop and “Healthy Furniture”
MSMU Libraries used funds from the NNLM mini-award to purchase two standing desks, a bike peddler, an air stepper, two balance disks, two standing mats, and two standing desk converters. The libraries additionally used funds to design and order a poster and popup banner for use at future MSMU Wellness fairs. On Tuesday, March 23, we held a drop-in workshop in the McCarthy Library to promote MedlinePlus and showcase our new “healthy” furniture. We held the event shortly during and after a campus-wide farmers market. We thought this would help encourage students, with healthy eating on their minds, to stop by and try out the new furniture. We additionally held a raffle for two Hydro Flasks to encourage students to sit through a fifteen-minute discussion of MedlinePlus and to ask follow-up questions on how the website could be utilized. Overall, we had around twenty students drop in for the workshop. We received positive feedback on the new furniture, with multiple requests for more exercise equipment in various additional areas of the library.
In conclusion, we viewed all three aspects of our project as a success! Anyone wishing additional project information may feel free to contact at Rebekah Tweed Fox.