Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge: a health literacy training partnership before and during COVID-19




Health Literacy, COVID-19, Novel Coronavirus, Consumer Health, Reference Interviews, Patient-Centered Care, Shared Decision-Making


Background: A request for consumer health information training for public librarians led to the development of a specialized consumer health reference and health literacy training program by professional consumer health librarians from an academic medical center. Professional consumer health librarians created an interactive presentation aimed at improving public librarians’ ability to respond to consumer health questions and provide vetted health resources.

Case Presentation: Building on professional expertise, librarians at Weill Cornell Medicine developed a live class demonstration accompanied by a representative subject LibGuide to support public librarians who assist patrons with health questions. Skills involved in effectively communicating with patrons who are seeking consumer health information include conducting reference interviews, matching patrons’ needs with appropriate resources, teaching useful Internet search methods, assessing health information, and understanding health literacy issues. Originally envisioned as two in-person live demonstrations, the team proactively adapted the program to respond to the stay-at-home social-distancing order put in place in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Conclusions: The team successfully led an in-person live training session followed by an adapted online training experience, the latter designed to complete the curricula while complying with city and state orders.


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Case Report