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The Public Librarian and the Consumer Health Question

Imagine that you’re sitting at the reference desk in a rural library and a woman approaches and asks for books about diabetes. You politely direct her to the consumer health section, successfully answering the question without invading her privacy or violating HIPAA laws. However, within a few minutes, you see her leaving the library without any books.

This exact scenario happened to Debbie Stanton at the Washington Free Public Library in Iowa. Luckily, Stanton stopped the woman and conducted a proper reference interview. After confirming that she did not find what she needed, Stanton asked her what she wanted to know about diabetes. The woman needed cookbooks, which was the information that Stanton needed to provide her with the right resources.

How can we provide the most appropriate information needed without prying into our patrons’ personal lives?

This issue and more is addressed in the upcoming Health Information for Public Librarians Symposium at the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta. This two-day symposium will not only provide interactive learning sessions but also critical networking opportunities.

If you have not already registered, contact Maria Lopez for last minute registration.

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