Health Happens in Libraries
In 2013, the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a membership organization that helps libraries work together to get information to people more quickly and efficiently, partnered with ZD on a federally funded project to increase library staff capacity to respond to patron information needs regarding changes in the health insurance marketplace. The project, Health Happens in Libraries (HHiL), was established to respond to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
ZD viewed ACA implementation as an opportunity to improve the capacity of libraries to provide effective health information and supports through electronic processes and communication (eHealth).
OCLC and ZD were tasked to:
- Conduct a needs assessment and policy scan in order to understand the health information services and anticipated resource needs of libraries relative to the launch of ACA.
- Publish a guide for state and public library eHealth engagement to support library professionals in creating a locally relevant approach to responding to ACA information requests in their communities.
- Develop awareness-building communications, including establishing an online Community of Practice, disseminating ACA content and stories regarding healthcare and ACA, and developing and archiving webinars.
Our evaluation revealed a number of promising findings including library staff’s increased awareness of ACA content and increased confidence in their ability to respond to patron requests on the subject matter. Beyond the direct impacts on library staff, the HHiL program also helped libraries prepare for the launch of ACA by increasing their ability to direct patrons to ACA application and enrollment resources and local consumer assistance, and to execute plans for use of library technology for ACA applications and enrollment.