Looking for health info in all the wrong places

Sometimes it’s hard to get the word out about good things. I think that one of those overlooked good things is our Health Information and Advocacy @ Your Library initiative. This grew from a grant the Tobacco Commission gave to Massey Cancer Center at VCU to provide health information through libraries in tobacco-growing regions of our state. Campbell County Public Library and our library system were the first two recipients of funding—guinea pigs, some might say.

A direct outgrowth of the grant funding is a web portal you can access through our website. What’s a web portal? It’s a way in to see some specially selected resources, in this case, health resources that have been chosen by experts at Massey.

My colleague at Campbell County likes to say, “Friends don’t let friends Google health information.” That is what we are trying to prevent. As librarians, we know that there are many health information sites on the web, but significant numbers of sites are trying to sell you something, often something that will not help with the condition you have. Others provide alternative information with no medical basis at all. The web is not monitored; there is no Internet monarch determining what is posted there. So it’s important to beware, especially when it comes to information about a health condition.

We’ve taken this portal out for a test drive from time to time here on our staff. Library staff, like everyone else, can have health issues. I was gratified to hear from one of our staffers that they used the site and found lots of pertinent information that was immediately helpful to them.

The portal will have a more polished look soon, but I’d encourage you to take a look now. Get familiar with it, and the next time you have a health question, take a look there first. You can trust what you find.

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