Library professionals guide patrons to information; Cheryl Rowan does it every day. Only instead of helping a high school student gather material for a history report or assisting an unemployed adult in finding the best online job sites, Rowan’s clients are doctors, public health workers, or even other librarians spread across five states.
As public health coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), South Central Region (SCR), Rowan’s trademark is teaching innovative outreach in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Rowan’s newest ongoing class is called “From Beyond Our Borders: Providing Health Information to Refugee Populations.” Two existing tutorials she designed, still popular and successful, are “Promoting Health Literacy Through Easy-To-Read Materials” and “Health Statistics on the Web: It’s as Easy as…1, 2, 3!”
Guiding public health workers to existing Internet options plays a key role in Rowan’s instruction. “My vision is to continue to inform the public health workforce about these wonderful resources and to empower them to feel they have these resources to offer their clients,” says Rowan, who works out of the Texas Medical Center Library in Houston. MedlinePlus (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus) and the Refugee Health Information Network site (www.rhin.org) are only two examples of the free resources Rowan promotes in her classes and public forums.
She’s also coordinator of the NNLM SCR’s Health Disparities Task Force. “Instead of going into an underserved community and providing traditional training on health resources, she specifically asks the population she is working with what they need,” says her supervisor, Michelle Malizia. That’s very reassuring.
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