July 1, 2013


IMLS Press Contact
Mamie Bittner, mbittner@imls.gov

IMLS and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to Partner with Libraries

IMLS announces $286,104 award to OCLC’s WebJunction to meet public demand
for information about Health Insurance Marketplace  

Chicago, IL— During the annual meeting of the American Library Association, The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), together with representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), met with library representatives on Sunday, June 30, to hear more about what librarians can do  to get ready to respond to patron requests for assistance in navigating new health insurance options in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

"We applaud the CMS for recognizing the role that libraries play in connecting patrons with government agencies," said Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association. "Our libraries look forward to guiding Americans navigate through the new health marketplace."

The Marketplace website, HealthCare.gov will be the primary tool for delivering information to Americans about their health coverage options. As prominent providers of Internet access and digital literacy training for people who lack Internet connections at home, libraries can anticipate intensified demand for computer services. IMLS and CMS will work cooperatively to make sure that libraries are aware of and able to connect patrons with information resources and community partners who are trained enrollment assistors.

IMLS has also awarded $286,104 to OCLC to support the effort through its flagship public library program WebJunction.org. The goal is to assure that librarians have the information and connections with local experts needed to connect their patrons to information about the Health Insurance Marketplace when open enrollment begins October 1, 2013. OCLC will work closely with ZeroDivide, a social impact organization that helps underserved communities realize the transformative power of technology to improve health outcomes, to implement the program.

“Libraries are a lifeline for Americans who wouldn’t otherwise have access to information and communication technologies,” said Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President for the Americas and Global Marketing, “and now online access to health information is critical to leading a healthy, productive life. OCLC is proud to continue to support public libraries in ensuring that their communities stay connected to the information they need to thrive.” 

Libraries have a long history of meeting public demand for consumer health information. A recent IMLS study showed that an estimated 37 percent of library computer users (28 million people) use library computers and seek assistance from librarians for health and wellness issues, including learning about medical conditions, finding health care providers, and assessing health insurance options. 

"With the Marketplaces open enrollment beginning this fall,  this grant is extremely timely and relevant and will enable libraries to be better prepared to assist Americans with healthcare enrollment and healthcare information,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “We are happy to be working CMS to help the nation’s libraries be prepared to better serve the public.”

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About OCLC
Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 74,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources.

A program of OCLC, WebJunction provides library staff with online access to continuous learning and the shared knowledge and experience of their peers. Founded in 2003, WebJunction is supported in part by OCLC, grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and state library partners. For more information, visit www.webjunction.org.