Libraries Are About So Much More Than Books

Healthcare screenings and immunizations are a new way for libraries to serve citizens.

It was never about books; it's always been about information.

Even though many people don't need a library for research, or prefer reading on an iPad, libraries have so much to offer their communities. Most libraries offer free Internet access, technology classes and access to media, such as music and DVDs. Now, some libraries are getting involved with healthcare by offering free health screenings and immunization clinics, according to Governing:

Libraries have hired child psychologists, social workers and language teachers. But only one public library system is known to employ a full-time nurse: the 27-branch Pima County, Ariz., Public Library. Nurses from the county’s Department of Health take turns working with library management and security personnel to assist customers with social, behavioral, physical and emotional problems, as well as performing health screenings and occasional immunization clinics.

Like Pima County, the Queens, N.Y., library system, which is one of the largest in the country with 62 locations, has an onsite health-care program. It partnered with the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and other health and community organizations to offer a program called Queens ConnectCare at eight libraries in the neighborhoods of Rockaway and Jamaica. Both these neighborhoods are government-designated health professional shortage areas. The program offers free health screenings for conditions like high blood pressure and blood sugar, and helps those who need it to make an appointment with an Addabbo physician.

While these efforts may not bridge the digital divide, they certainly provide valuable services to citizens. In the past, StateTech has offered suggestions for libraries of the future. How else can libraries serve their communities, with technology or otherwise?

<p>Marko Beric/Hemera/Thinkstock</p>
Dec 10 2013