Influence of library relocation and marketing: examining zip codes and health disparities to serve consumers in East Tennessee

David W. Petersen, Martha Earl, Cameron Watson, Kelsey Grabeel


Background: In 2014, the Preston Medical Library underwent a radical change, moving from an academic office building to the main floor of a regional medical center. While the library had previously served the public, health information requests have substantially increased in volume due to the new location. Researchers analyzed request data to see if the service’s reach has expanded to counties that previously had not used the service, to see which counties have requested the most health information, and to ascertain whether more requests are from counties with higher poverty rates.

Case Presentation: Each health information request is logged with the subject nature and patron contact information. Consumer health request data were downloaded from the library database. Names and other identifying data were removed. Request forms were sorted and reviewed by zip code and county, comparing number of requests as well as poverty levels. Tableau was utilized to create maps, visually showing patron concentrations and poverty levels.

Conclusions: There were 3,141 health information requests from September 21, 2014, to May 31, 2019. The majority of requests were from local counties. Requests were also received from counties that had not been previously reached and counties with elevated poverty levels. Collecting data on patron interactions is not only critical for institutional reporting, but also for community outreach. Understanding that data require taking additional steps to filter the information, assess local demographics, and customize library services. Researchers anticipate being able to better tailor services to the community based on the results.


Consumer Health; Patient Education; Hospital Library

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