Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

“I’m not sure if that’s what their job is”: consumer health information and emerging “healthwork” roles in the public library

By Roma Harris, Flis Henwood, Audrey Marshall and Samantha Burdett

Abstract

Members of the public are expected to assume increasing responsibility for their own health and keep themselves informed about health issues. Here we describe a study of library users’ and\ud staff members’ expectations about the public library’s role in supporting citizens’ \ud “healthwork.” We conducted our research in a public library in the United Kingdom that operates on a model of patron self-service. Data were gathered through in-depth interviews with library patrons and staff members as well as a\ud written survey of patrons who had visited the library because of a health concern. Our findings suggest that the library’s users regard the public library as a highly trusted source of health information. The majority of surveyed users were in search of books relevant to their health concern, and more than half were able to locate what they needed on their own. While generally self-sufficient, some of the survey respondents as well as those who took part in the interviews indicated that they had consulted library staff for help, although they appeared uncertain about the level of reference support they should expect. Members of the library’s\ud reference desk staff who took part in the interviews expressed frustration over policies that limit the time available to support patron’s inquiries, and many lacked training, particularly in online health information resources. The results raise important questions about the\ud emerging “geography of responsibilities” in health-informing work arising from changing information technology and new emphases in health polic

Topics: L400 Social Policy, L000 Social Sciences
Publisher: American Library Association
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.brighton.ac.uk:7660

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. Cyber-Burdens. Emerging Imperatives in Women’s Unpaid Care Work,”
  2. (2008). Diagnosis at a Distance: The Invisible Work of Patients and doi
  3. (2000). Evidence-Based Patient Information doi
  4. example, the Iowa City Public Library (www. icpl.org) or the Toronto Public Library (www.torontopubliclibrary.ca).
  5. example, the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), www.4sonline.org (accessed
  6. (2002). Fabricating ‘Health Consumers’ in Health Care Politics,” in Consuming Health: The Commodification of Health Care, doi
  7. (2005). Factors Affecting the Provision of Consumer Health Information
  8. Flis Henwood is Professor and Head of the Social Informatics Research Unit,
  9. (2001). For instance, without awareness of controlled
  10. (2004). Health Information
  11. (2005). House of Commons, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Public Libraries.
  12. (2007). I Try To Take Care Of It Myself.’ How Rural Women Search for Health Information,” doi
  13. (2007). If My Mother Was Alive, I’d Probably Have Called Her.’ Women’s Search for Health Information doi
  14. (2003). Ignorance is Bliss Sometimes’: Constraints on the Emergence of the Informed Patient in the Changing doi
  15. (2006). Imposing Personal Responsibility for Health,” The New England doi
  16. (2001). Introduction to the Special Issue: doi
  17. (2004). New Directions in Social Policy: Health Policy for Museums, Libraries and Archives, (London: Museums, Libraries and Archives Council,
  18. of Health, Self Care, www.dh.gov.uk/ en/Healthcare/Selfcare/index.htm (accessed
  19. (2006). Online Health Search doi
  20. (2004). Public Librarians as a Resource for Promoting Health: Results from the Health for Everyone doi
  21. Public librarians as a Resource for Promoting Health.” doi
  22. (2000). Public Library Consumer Health Information Pilot Project: Results of a
  23. (1998). Reorganizing Canadian Libraries: A Giant Step Back from the Front,”
  24. (2006). Searching for Health Information in Rural Canada: Where Do Residents Look for Health Information and What Do They Do When They Find It?”
  25. Searching for Health Information in Rural Canada.”
  26. (2008). The Go-Betweens: Health, Technology and Info(r)mediation,” in Mediating Health Information: The Go-Betweens in a Changing Socio-Technical Landscape, doi
  27. (2005). Trying to Help Without Getting in Their Faces.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.