NLM Announces Online Health Information Initiative
The National Library of Medicine
(NLM) has announced that it is funding 49 electronic health information
projects in 34 states, affecting rural, inner-city, and suburban areas.
“The projects we are supporting will increase Internet access in a variety
of settings, from middle schools serving low-income and educationally underserved
students to shopping malls and senior centers,” said Donald A. B. Lindberg,
director of the NLM. “These are imaginative and well-targeted projects
that will help us determine how we can best provide millions of Americans
who are still not connected to the Internet with access to health information.
They will stimulate medical libraries, local public libraries, and other
organizations to work together to provide new electronic health information
services for all citizens in a community.”
Henry Foster, senior advisor to President Clinton on teen and youth
issues, said: “Many of the contracts will focus on making computers available
in community-based centers and teaching computer skills to minorities and
low-income populations—individuals who lack access to computers and hence
fail to gain the needed computer skills essential to contemporary American
living. From Native Americans in Wyoming to minority populations in the
lower Mississippi Delta to those isolated in Appalachia, these consumers
will soon have access to Web-based health information. We hope that the
skills consumers learn through these projects will enable them to make
better informed health decisions.” Foster is also a member of NLM’s board
Here are examples of a few of the projects:
The Wyoming Medical Center will build partnerships with libraries in the
local counties. The 13-county area covered by this project encompasses
nearly half the population of Wyoming, including many Native Americans.
In Atlanta, Emory University Health Sciences Center Library will team up
with a hospital, a regional library, and the Cascade United Methodist Church
in training librarians to help consumers search for health information
and to develop a consumer health Web site.
The Preuss School in La Jolla, California, is a new charter school for
a select group of 150 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. Geared to low-income
and educationally underserved students, the school’s mission is to prepare
them for admission into and graduation from a university. The University
of California–San Diego Biomedical Library will team up with the middle
school’s faculty to create and integrate into the curriculum a health Web
site especially geared to these students.
The University of Missouri plans to reach out to consumers at a location
where they frequently congregate—the shopping mall. The university sponsors
a Consumer Information Center in the Columbia (Missouri) Mall that will
be expanded to include more healthcare links.
Massachusetts General Hospital will join forces with community-based organizations
in the area to create a Health Resource Center that will provide online
healthcare information for an exceptionally diverse population of residents.
The State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse will
team up with an organization serving older adults to offer consumer health
information services to the senior population in that city and the surrounding
six counties. Project organizers will teach older adults how to access
the Web to find health information and will develop a Web-based tutorial.
On the NLM Web site there are descriptions of each of the 49 projects,
including the name of the project director, phone and fax numbers, and
e-mail addresses. The projects total more than $1 million and will run
variously from 1 year to 18 months.