How One Library\u27s Location Change Impacted Health Information Requests: Comparing Zip Codes and Health Disparities to Shape Library Services


Objective In 2014, the Preston Medical Library underwent a radical change, moving from an academic office building to the main floor of a regional medical center. While the library previously served the public, health information requests have substantially increased in volume due to the new location. Each health information request is logged with the subject nature and patron contact information. The objective is: to analyze this data to see if our reach has expanded to counties that previously have not used the service, to see which counties request the most health information, and to ascertain whether more requests are from counties with a higher poverty level. Methods Consumer health request data was downloaded from the library database. First names and other identifying data were removed. The request forms were sorted by county and zip code. For the largest three counties, researchers further sorted by zip code. GIS will be used to create maps, visually showing where the largest concentrations of patrons are located. Requests were reviewed by zip code and county, comparing number of requests as well as poverty levels. Results There were 3,141 health information requests from September 21, 2014 to May 31, 2019. Ninety-nine results were omitted because they were from out-of-state. The majority of requests were from Knox county and adjacent counties. Requests were also received from counties not previously reached and counties with elevated poverty levels. Conclusion Collecting data on patron interactions is not only critical for institutional reporting, but also for community outreach. Understanding that data requires taking additional steps to filter the information, assess local demographics, and customize library services. Researchers anticipate being able to better tailor services to the community based on the results

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