Miami Public Library (MPL) serves more than 13,500 residents in Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Providing relevant content and services, including health information, is a part of its mission. Through data-driven programs and strategic partnerships, MPL has established strong health information services to support the health literacy skills of staff and patrons alike.
Marcia Johnson, Director of MPL, knew that there was a community need for reliable access to health information and sought additional data to better understand those needs. MPL used this data to establish its health literacy services and programs. The "Health Happens in Libraries" program looks for innovative public libraries, such as MPL, to identify key resources and to provide recommendations and suggestions to encourage similar efforts in library planning across the country.
In early 2014, MPL engaged existing library literacy students in health literacy workshops on topics such as healthy behaviors and effective health communications. These students are adult patrons with low-level literacy or English as a second language who may take newly developed skills and share them with their peers and families, modeling the multiplying effect at the heart of library services.
Marcia noted, "As part of our mission to enhance the quality of life in our community, we are committed to providing lifelong learning for our residents."
MPL also works to connect staff and patrons with information regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since there is a fair amount of complex information circulating about the law’s requirements for individuals and families to enroll in health coverage, MPL and Be Covered Oklahoma work to engage community members by providing a workshop and materials to foster their understanding of this health law.
Through building health literacy skills and connecting patrons and staff to the health information they need when they need it, MPL is reinforcing the health of its community.
"Health Happens in Libraries" is run in partnership by WebJunction® and ZeroDivide and is funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The goal of the program is to improve public library e-health services and to increase library staff capacity to respond to patron requests for information regarding the Affordable Care Act. Learn more about the program, sign up for webinars, download resources and get ongoing news about the program on the WebJunction "Health Happens in Libraries" topic page.