Welcome to Health Link Libraries
Libraries up and down the country are supporting people's health and well-being. Health Link
carried out 2008 snapshot survey of 89/150 library authorities in England and Wales revealed just how significant their contribution is.
Libraries offer support to the whole population on getting healthy. More than one in four libraries in the survey offer exercise classes and another 24% lead walking groups. Others offer space for health activities such healthy eating advice, smoking cessation and blood pressure checks.
"Providers and partners are starting to look at libraries more positively - in that they approach us as a first call rather than an afterthought." Library Manager
Libraries work to help vulnerable people or those with long term conditions stay healthy, with 70% offering information on treatment and conditions and 43% on long term conditions. Others offer space to support groups, or hosting one to one advice sessions on topics such as men's health.
Apart from reading and information, libraries offer a range of activities to support people's emotional well-being, including Books on Prescription (offering selected self help books to people referred by their GP) bibliotherapy (using reading to help tackle emotional difficulties), reminiscence activity for older people and computerised cognitive behavioural therapy. Some libraries provided mobile library services to mental health inpatients.
"The internet is the 'publishing house' for information and computers are the 'printing press.' Just as you do not need to know how to work a printing press to read a book, so you should not need to know how to work a computer to access web-based information. Library staff can access online information for all patients, IT literate or not, print it out and give it to them - crossing the 'digital divide' in one step." Health Link
Libraries are supporting patients to choose a hospital when they are referred, and to book their appointment online. Some are using the NHS Choices website, www.nhs.uk
to help with information to compare hospitals as well as tools to help people choose healthy lifestyle. Libraries are starting to support the public in using these tools, using their IT support role to make online resources accessible to people who are not IT literate.