The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health disparities in US communities—from receiving treatment while sick, to finding accurate information about how to mitigate the spread of the disease, to vaccine access and trustworthy information. As part of their core functions as local community information hubs, libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs) can play a key role in addressing these critical inequities. The following resources help to define health equity in a LAM context, highlight specific needs of LAM staff, and provide examples for how these institutions are taking action.
Note: These examples may have changed since being reviewed. Last accessed June 3, 2021.
“Museums on Call: How Museums Are Addressing Health Issues,” from the American Alliance of Museums: A report detailing museum contributions to a host of wellness issues, including a list of example projects.
“Museums as facilitators of health and wellbeing in communities,” from The Knowledge Exchange, published April 2019: Blog post on the role of museums in communal wellness.
“Best Practice in Health Education in Museums,” from MuseumNext, published April 2021: Examples of approaches to health communication and education in museum programs.
"Healthy Community Tools for Public Libraries,” from the Public Library Association: Compiles training resources, program ideas, and trustworthy health websites and databases. The site also includes links to evidence-based health news to help public librarians stay up-to-date and incorporate emerging issues into their programming.
"Regional Medical Library Membership,” from National Network of Libraries of Medicine: Membership in a Regional Medical Library is free and provides access to training, funding, and materials to keep library programming strong and keep communities healthy. Read more in a letter from 2017–2018 PLA President Pam Sandlian Smith and a brochure about the benefits of membership.
“Putting the Consumer Health Information Specialization to Work in Public Libraries” from the Public Library Association, published November 2016: A free on-demand webinar providing an overview of educational programs available via the National Network of Libraries of Medicine about consumer health and specific health topics.
“Beyond Books: Public Libraries As Partners For Population Health” from Health Affairs, published November 2016: An assessment of how ten highly-subscribed programs address the social determinants of health, and the results of interviews with community residents and library staff.
“COVID-19 – Racial Equity and Social Justice Resources,” from Racial Equity Tools: A thorough list of resources that illuminate the connection between racial equity, health equity, and the pandemic. These may help illustrate issues faced by LAM staff and visitors.
“Achieving Health Equity,” from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Resources defining health equity, providing evidence for the connection between health disparities and culture, and recommending specific actions.
“A Practitioner’s Guide for Advancing Health Equity,” from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published 2013: Strategies for advancing health equity and example projects.
“Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity,” from the National Academy of Sciences, published 2017: How the business sector can impact community health outcomes.
“What Can I Do to Advance Health Equity?” from the Minnesota Department of Health: A worksheet for applying a health equity lens to decision making.
“Employers Have a Role in Creating Health Equity,” from SHRM, published April 2021: HR perspective on how employers can advance health equity for employees.
Image credits: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Public Library Association