Guest Post

Yesterday marked the official launch of the library’s program, Health Information & Advocacy @ Your Library. The speaker for the event was Susan Paynter, local writer and library advocate. Here are her remarks:

Just before I was asked to speak here, I’d been thinking about my family, and my community. And how much a small community like Chatham is like a family. Then I started thinking:

What if Chatham was a family?

Which buildings would be which people?

Well, I thought about the Courthouse…with its authority and sense of fairness…meting out discipline when necessary…and I decided the courthouse would be the father.

The houses of worship, with their eons of wisdom, might be the grandparents.

The police station, looking out for us and keeping us safe, could be our big brother.

And the library?

That’s pretty easy.

standing by to help when we need it:

That sounds like Mom!

And now, with this new Health Information & Advocacy program, Mom’s got a brand new medicine cabinet.

I don’t know if you’ve ever turned to the Internet for information on a disease that runs in your family, or a loved-one’s diagnosis, or a new medication, or treatment options, or some other medical question. I know I have, and did I get confused! It felt less like an information medicine cabinet and more like a little shop of horrors.

It was filled with contradictory information, people trying to sell cures, therapies and treatments, and testimonials that may or may not have been genuine.

How are you supposed to know?

There was too much information and no way to judge it.

Modern life is like that. It’s filled with too many claims and choices, and we just end up baffled!

I’ll share an embarrassing little story, just to illustrate.

The other day I was at the Food Lion. I had bathroom tissue on my list. I usually get the same-old-same-old. But I thought “Maybe it’s time to analyze the situation.” So I stood there staring at an acre of choices, paralyzed with indecision! They had regular rolls, double rolls and mega rolls. There was soft and ultra-soft. Super-absorbent, quilted, squeezable and huggable. And a new one for me: TUG-able!

They came in single rolls, 4-packs, 8-packs, 12-packs and 24-packs. I looked at the unit pricing: you know, how many cents per little square? But how do you weigh the 1-ply against the 2-ply? It was all too much! I finally grabbed a 4-pack of the house brand and fled the scene. I mean, it doesn’t really matter, does it?

But when you’re faced with that kind of confusion as you analyze medical information it does matter. It matters a lot. You can’t just grab and run.

Once you’ve spent some time on line looking for information on health & wellness you begin to realize that snake oil salesmen aren’t just colorful figures from the 19th century; they’re alive and well and thriving on the Internet.

And that’s what’s so exciting about this new program.

The only thing the library sells is used books. So when they give you medical information, you know that the only criteria they use are quality, accuracy and helpfulness. And librarians have a code of ethics and confidentiality they take just as seriously as any doctor does. Our privacy is sacred to them. When we ask for their help, they treat us with respect and dignity, even when we’re clueless! They never laugh or roll their eyes.

We’ve known since we were kids in school that we go to the library when we need information. Mothing much has really changed. It’s just gotten better.

They still have a wonderful collection of books on health & well-being. But this new program is like an all-encompassing healthcare website. One you can trust. It’s got up-to-the-minute information you can’t get from printed books. And it’ll tell you about local resources and services which books can’t possibly do.

So if you’re confused by what your doctor told you, if you’re worried about a diagnosis, if you want to know what your medical options are…

Come to Mom!

She’s at every branch of the Pittsylvania County Public Library. And she never sleeps. She’s always available on the library’s website:


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