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Public Libraries Summer Report – Part 1: The Oklahoma Symposium

Posted by on August 20th, 2019

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) has partnered with national associations to carry out health programs and initiatives with public libraries, to provide health information and services to patrons. NNLM network member libraries have partnered with community partners to carry out heath related programming, at times incorporating health devices into their collections and even hosting health events ranging from fitness classes to health screenings. Our Consumer Health Coordinator, Debbie Montenegro, has written a three-part series to report on her very busy summer of working with public libraries in the South Central Region (SCR). This is Part 1. 

Earlier this year, our Executive Director, Consumer Health Coordinator, and All of Us Community Engagement Coordinator had the opportunity to present at the Health Literacy Symposium held by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and sponsored by the NNLM SCR, the Robert M. Bird Health Sciences Library (University of Oklahoma), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Public librarians from across the state of Oklahoma were in attendance, from both urban and rural areas. The Symposium was titled, A Familiar Story with a New Title: Social Determinants of Health in Libraries, Literacy Programs, and Communities. A description of the symposium is as follows:

“Because of their expertise and accessibility, librarians and literacy personnel engage with people from all walks of life, with various socioeconomic situations, with diverse educational backgrounds, and a myriad of health needs. These conditions, called social determinants of health, impact not only the health of library users and learners, but their health literacy and their ability to use community resources” (Symposium flyer).

The part I found most instructional as a presenter, were the share-back sessions where each public librarian got to report on what their library had been working on and what they had in store for the summer, which is now coming to an end. How time flies!

Moon Landing Anniversary EventThe Oklahoma public libraries reported conducting health-related programming including nutrition and healthy cooking classes for adults and children. Libraries also partnered with organizations such as Blue Zones; YMCA; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program; nutritionists; and even hospital systems. They conducted fitness sessions on yoga, tai chi, and dance for patrons. Some also incorporated health conscious items into their collections, such as blood pressure monitors and scales. Along with community partners, libraries also hosted health screenings, CPR classes, Medicare counsel, and health awareness programs. Other programs include monthly health challenges and other active programs such as maintaining community gardens or going on story walks. They also created resource guides for health provider locations.

Libraries in Oklahoma also took the national Summer Reading “Space” theme to another level and incorporated it into health programming. Librarians created programs including Space Story Walks, astronaut training in the park, walking to the moon events and moon walk sack races!

We’ll share more about NNLM involvement in moon-walking on the next post!

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Funded under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012345 with the University of North Texas Health Science Center - Gibson D. Lewis Library, and awarded by the DHHS, NIH, National Library of Medicine.

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