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Access for all? A survey of health librarians in the north-west of England on provision of information to patients

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Abstract

This study examined the role that health librarians could play in helping patients to find information. A questionnaire survey was sent out to 50 health librarians in the north-west of England. It examined the following: the type of library and users, access to information for patients, librarians’ attitudes to provision of information to patients and their knowledge of other sources available to their users.

Ninety-seven per cent of librarians said that they could recommend quality information sources to patients, but many suggested that there were practical problems in allowing patients to use health libraries due to lack of appropriate resources, facilities and funding. Advantages of health library involvement in patient information include having a local point of contact for patients and the ability of librarians to find, evaluate and organize good-quality resources. However, health library staff may not have enough time to answer enquiries from the public and may lack training in dealing with patients. Innovation, especially in developing on-line services, could offer a way to provide a service without overloading the physical requirements of a library. Librarians could also collaborate with other staff to improve patient information.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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