Guest Post By:
Natalie Taylor, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and MLIS Program Coordinator, University of South Florida
Denise Shereff, AHIP, Instructor II, University of South Florida
Peter Cannon, Ph.D., Communication Officer, University of South Florida
In March 2019, researchers from the University of South Florida’s School of Information’s Responsive Librarianship Lab (RLL) embarked on a project to build a library for the pediatric patients of a local behavioral health facility, the Morton Plant North Bay Hospital Recovery Center. The facility is a 72-bed, co-ed facility and the only freestanding psychiatric hospital in Pasco County, FL. Up to 25 pediatric patients, ranging in age from 5-17 years, can be served at a time for short-term, acute care. Before beginning this project, the pediatric patients only had access to a small bookshelf of books to read during their ample free time. Using Responsive Librarianship (RL), a data-driven research scheme dedicated to the delivery of personalized library services in response to an individual’s mental health concerns, our research group proposed to build a small library for the use of pediatric patients while they are at the facility.
After meeting with administrators and the professional care staff, we were given the go-ahead to start amassing books and technology, and to take steps toward building a catalog for the pediatric section of the facility. The initial cost was low: researchers drew on experiences from building a library and catalog at the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office, Inc. (DACCO) facility in Tampa, FL and we were also able to use books previously held in the collection of the Henrietta M. Smith Library at the University of South Florida’s School of Information. However, we lacked funds to purchase technology to assist in using the catalog on-site and adding digital devices to circulate. With grant funding from the NNLM Southeast SEA Project Award, we were able to purchase this technology and thus were better situated to meet our project goals, which included:
Starting in late June 2019, the project team began staffing the library multiple times per week. Though, circulation is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we anticipate beginning services again as soon as the facility’s pandemic restrictions are lifted. Between June and March, the HRC had 1016 lendings, circulated 241 titles, and served approximately 558 patrons at the facility. These numbers include only the analog materials. The 17 available Kindles have been circulated 88 times. (Each Kindle, purchased with grant funds, has several books pre-loaded. Patrons are not allowed to access the Internet or download additional books). Researchers regularly conduct readers’ advisory and conduct Responsive Librarianship, assisted by the Decision Support System Catalog (DeSSCat). The DeSSCat now has over 461 individual texts tagged with relevant topical codes and is searchable by the librarian on duty on a computer used in the facility.
In addition to library circulation and readers’ advisory, team members have developed four group session plans focused on the interaction between health literacy, creative expression, reading, and information seeking behavior. These plans were used in four, 30-minute group sessions. Perhaps most relevant to the goals of this particular grant, on November 25, 2019, the team conducted its first mental health literacy program focusing on finding internet sources for topics such as depression. Seven pediatric residents participated in the group activities designed to evaluate predetermined sources (including NLM resources). Individualized attention was made possible for one participant who was unwilling to participate in the group activities through personal interaction with a team member for evaluation of websites using a tablet purchased through this grant.
Overall, we feel the project continues to be a successful example of how responsive librarianship can work in a pediatric hospital environment, providing a valuable benefit to the patients in the facility. For more information, please visit the RLL website (https://www.usf.edu/arts-sciences/departments/information/research/library-science.aspx)