Connecting for Care in Your Community

Liz Morris /

We're curious – how do members of your community connect for care? It's a broad question, and "connecting for care" means different things to a lot of people. That's why we're asking! So – email us and let us know – how do members of your community connect for care? What role does your library play in that connection? Send us a sentence, a paragraph, or a tome, or tweet us at #libs4health. We'll share your examples (with your permission, of course!) through social media in the coming weeks.

Here's why we're asking. Since July 2013, Health Happens in Libraries has worked to magnify the role of public libraries as key contributors to community health. Our first year of work focused primarily on the online health insurance Marketplace established as part of the Affordable Care Act. Now, thanks to meaningful input from state and public libraries across the country, great collaboration with our partners at ZeroDivide, and generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, we're expanding our focus.

Between now and summer 2015, we will partner with public libraries and health information experts to do some pretty neat stuff. This includes developing health competency pathways that library staff can use to advance services in common community health topics. We'll also work with 3 – 5 public libraries and their local health partners, to co-create community engagement models, and share those models broadly. And finally, a range of communications resources will be developed, to help advocate with members of local communities about how libraries help in health and wellness, and these resources will be freely available for use by any library.

Most recently, the Health Happens in Libraries team moderated a webinar with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of Minority Health, and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on planning for the next open enrollment period for the health insurance Marketplace, and strategies for libraries to prepare and connect to informed community partners. The full archive of this webinar is available here. Participants also learned about the free and consumer oriented resources available from the Coverage to Care initiative. Among other dynamic tools available in English and Spanish, this initiative provides a very clear Roadmap for individuals to understand how to navigate the sometimes complex components of utilizing health coverage and how to engage with providers and recommended health resources effectively.

The perspectives of your library and your community make this work relevant. You may already be familiar with emerging models of health information services through libraries, such as those illustrated through our library profiles. You may already be delivering your own unique programming, or wondering where to get started. Wherever you're at, we're excited to be a partner for you as you build connections for care in your community, and we look forward to sharing more about this project in the coming months.