June 18, 2018

Karen Parry | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Educators

Karen Parry


Information Services Manager, East Brunswick Public Library, NJ


MLS, Rutgers University, 1986


Just for the Health of It!

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher


For the Health of It

Having been what she calls “a patient of the Internet” when her mother was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, Karen Parry knows how difficult it is to find trustworthy health information. So after her mother died in 2009, Parry started Just for the Health of It! at the East Brunswick Public Library (EBPL).

Along with a “cozy corner” of health books, Parry and her team set up a customer health research service. Whether consumers are looking for a better understanding of their medications, advice on how to talk to their doctor, or just tips on improving their general wellness, they can get it by asking the Just for the Health of It! team.

In 2010, Parry signed up EBPL as an affiliate member of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM). It has been a boon, she says. EBPL librarians receive ongoing training, and three NNLM grants have enabled it to create and market a 24-7 Just for the Health of It! community portal.

Now EBPL’s program is both in-library (with more than 50 local health-care partners who provide programs there) and mobile, with tables set up weekly at community events such as town halls, fairs, and farmers markets, as well as at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center.

While everyone has questions about their health, East Brunswick’s demographics mean information about wellness and health care are particularly in demand from recent immigrants and older patrons. Serving communities like these drives Parry’s zeal for health-focused library programs.

“Librarians, with their research skills and passion, have limitless potential to influence the health of their communities,” says Parry, who envisions “health literacy as the next generation of [library] reference.”

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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  1. Congrats Karen!!

  2. Jessica Ng says:

    Congrats Karen! I remember the “cozy corner” of health books and information when I was an Information Services intern there in 2010. I’m glad to see it has developed into a wonderful and much needed service!

  3. Rachel Paulus says:

    Congratulations Karen! I’m proud to have learned from you, the rest of the staff, and NNML during my internship at EBPL, which gave me the opportunity to be part of Just for the Health of It. It was definitely neat to see your smiling face on this list!

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