Available Until 12/31/2028

Health and Wellness @ the Library: The Essentials of Providing Consumer Health Services*

For more information or to schedule this course, contact the NNLM Training Office at, nto@utah.edu.

Whether it is a curious consumer or a patient with a recent serious diagnosis, are you well- prepared when a person turns to the library for help in understanding their health questions? This online course covers all the core competencies needed to provide consumer health information services, beginning with using demographics and health status indicators to understand the health  and information needs of the community. This will be followed by introduction to the essential skills and information that library staff members need to provide unbiased reference services to diverse users. Students will learn about the best resources for general and complex health questions, in addition to collection development practices for consumer health materials. Students will learn about mobile health technologies and how people use social networking for health information. The course will show how to create relevant, informative health-related programming to reach specific populations based on community demographics and health information needs. A final project is required to complete the class, and participants are encouraged to choose a real-life project relevant to his or her workplace. This course is taught using Moodle, an online course management system.


Learning Objectives

Learners will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of consumer health and how the library helps to build healthy communities
  • Find and utilize community health data to understand and respond to the most pressing health issues in the community
  • Explain the difference between literacy and health literacy
  • Feel comfortable and confident providing health reference to diverse users
  • Understand the ethical and legal issues about providing health information
  • Evaluate the quality of health information in a variety of formats, and teach users how to recognize the elements of trustworthy materials and the warning signs of dubious health information
  • Identify and choose authoritative health information resources that are appropriate for particular users
  • Apply criteria for collection development of consumer health materials
  • Plan health-related programming and events


Agenda for online class (Designed as a 4-week class agenda, can be extended to 5 or 6 weeks to allow more time for completion of assignments and final project at instructor's discretion)

Each week includes a reading by the instructor, at least one assignment, required discussion topics, and additional support materials (articles, videos, web resources.).

Week 1: Consumer Health Basics

  • Understanding the community
  • Characteristics and needs of users as they seek health information
  • The role and limitations of library staff as health information providers
  • Literacy and health literacy: definitions, implications and strategies

Week 2: Health Reference in the Real World

  • Unique aspects of health reference
  • Legal, ethical, and privacy issues
  • Techniques and resources for serving diverse users
  • Evaluation criteria and helping users evaluate health materials

Week 3: Health Resources: There's a (book, web site, app) for that

  • Best health websites for diseases, conditions, therapies, wellness, and more
  • Finding special content – multimedia, easy-to-read and multilingual materials
  • Choosing, evaluating, and weeding core reference and circulating materials
  • Guidance about using mobile technologies and social networking sites for health information

Week 4: The Library as a Healthy Place

  • Designing health programs of interest to users in the community
  • Effective promotion and marketing of health information services
  • How partnerships can enhance services and extend the reach of the library
  • Incorporating workplace wellness into your library


Agenda for in-person, hands-on class: (Each hour corresponds to the weeks in the online class)

Hour 1: Lecture, health literacy videos, discussion

Hour 2: Lecture, group exercise, hands-on activity

Hour 3: Demonstration, hands-on activity, group discussion

Hour 4: Lecture, discussion, practical activity

Facility Requirements: Access to computers and the Internet is required for the face-to-face course. For the online course, students need to have access to a computer and an Internet connection.

MLA CE Credits: 4 or 12