RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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The role of the academic medical center library in training public librarians.

PURPOSE: This project enhanced access to and awareness of health information resources on the part of public libraries in western Pennsylvania.

SETTING/PARTICIPANTS/RESOURCES: The Health Sciences Library System (HSLS), University of Pittsburgh, conducted a needs assessment and offered a series of workshops to 298 public librarians.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The National Library of Medicine-funded project "Access to Electronic Health Information" at the HSLS, University of Pittsburgh, provided Internet health information training to public libraries and librarians in sixteen counties in western Pennsylvania. Through this project, this academic medical center library identified the challenges for public librarians in providing health-related reference service, developed a training program to address those challenges, and evaluated the impact of this training on public librarians' ability to provide health information.

RESULTS/OUTCOME: The HSLS experience indicates academic medical center libraries can have a positive impact on their communities by providing health information instruction to public librarians. The success of this project--demonstrated by the number of participants, positive course evaluations, increased comfort level with health-related reference questions, and increased use of MEDLINEplus and other quality information resources--has been a catalyst for continuation of this programming, not only for public librarians but also for the public in general.

EVALUATION METHOD: A training needs assessment, course evaluation, and impact training survey were used in developing the curriculum and evaluating the impact of this training on public librarians' professional activities.

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