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Several times each month I hear from librarians new to collecting health information who are looking for advice on developing a consumer health collection. These librarians are rarely looking for a detailed policy, nor are they looking for a bibliography per se. Rather, they tend to seek some guidance about quickly updating or developing a collection that will be accessible to their patrons without breaking the budget.
Because so few librarians have a health science background and because the subject matter is often very personal--you are directing patrons to information they may use to make decisions about their health and medical care--many librarians feel uncomfortable making judgments about what content to add. The two most frequent questions I'm asked are: "How do I know if the health information I am purchasing, and eventually directing patrons to, is good or not?" and "Who are the best vendors, publishers, etc. to purchase health material from?"
There is nothing worse than a patron stating that he or she has just left a health provider's office after being told that the information provided by the library was not only incorrect but potentially harmful. This leads me to my first question for you: How good is the health information you're providing? Instead of assessing whether the information in your collection is bad or out-of-date, I suggest you ask: Is the
information to which I direct patrons either scientifically based or evidence-based (which are two different issues)? If the answer is …