Just as public libraries are about more than books, health is about more than healthcare. Partnerships between public libraries and community health stakeholders address disparities in access to health information and services by providing inclusive entry points to reliable and relevant health resources and support. Access to and meaningful use of information is core to effective individual health management. Experts recognize that health literacy is essential for individuals, organizations, and communities to develop. Yet in the United States, adult health literacy levels vary from below basic (14 percent), to basic (22 percent), intermediate (53 percent) and proficient (12 percent). Title V of the Affordable Care Act defines health literacy as “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand health information and services in order to make appropriate health decisions.”
Posts Tagged ‘Digital Inclusion Survey’
The 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey marks twenty years of data collection about the Internet and public libraries. The study is conducted annually by the American Library Association and the University of Maryland’s Information Policy & Access Center. This year’s results showed consistent trends in the increase of public technology service offerings in U.S. public libraries. Some key findings include:
*Virtually all libraries (98 percent) offer free public Wi-Fi access—in 1994 only 21 percent offered public Internet access;
*Close to 90 percent of libraries offer basic digital literacy training, and a significant majority support training related to new technology devices (62 percent), safe online practices (57 percent), and social media use (56 percent);
*Seventy-six percent of libraries assist patrons in using online government programs and services;
*The vast majority of libraries provide programs that support people in applying for jobs (73 percent), access and using online job opportunity resources (68 percent), and using online business information resources (48 percent);
*More than 90 percent of public libraries offer e-books, online homework assistance (95 percent), and online language learning (56 percent).
Gone are the days when public libraries measure their worth solely by the number of books circulated annually. It is no longer enough to measure our success by the size of the crowd that attended our Storytime program. Our communities expect more from their public libraries than just moving books or filling a room. Librarians in the 21st century must also show the impact and outcomes of the services they offer. Measuring impact and outcomes is getting easier. Public librarians have an assortment of tools available to demonstrate the impact of library services in their communities. National initiatives like the Impact Study and PLA’s Project Outcome provide new standards and tools to measure library services.
The Digital Inclusion Survey, which collected information from September to November 2013 about public libraries, is a significant way to see how libraries are excelling and where they are falling short in digital literacy, programming, and technology training.
The Digital Inclusion Survey will generate unique data that will illustrate the essential role libraries play in digital literacy, economic and workforce development, health and wellness, civic engagement, and e-government. The survey findings will highlight what stakeholders not only want to know but need to know: the unique attributes of library services for community well-being, and what libraries provide that few other community-based entities can provide.