September 4, 2014


IMLS logo OCLC logo

IMLS Contact
Giuliana Bullard, 202-653-4799

OCLC Contact
Bob Murphy, 614-761-5136

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded OCLC a grant to continue work helping libraries support health information initiatives in their communities.

In July 2013, OCLC received an IMLS grant to increase libraries’ ability to respond to customer health information needs, launching the “Health Happens in Libraries” program. IMLS is supporting an expansion of that effort with a $199,050 grant to OCLC. OCLC and its partner, ZeroDivide, will develop additional resources for individual libraries to highlight ways they can lead or support health initiatives.

“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,” said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. “This grant will enable OCLC to explore some new directions for their work, which has already helped so many people make more informed decisions about their healthcare.”

As a part of “Health Happens in Libraries,” OCLC provided a variety of Affordable Care Act-related resources and training for library staff through WebJunction, the flagship public library program, and created a website that served as a base for a community of best practice for interested librarians. An evaluation of the project found that the activities increased library staff awareness, bolstered confidence in librarians’ ability to respond to customers’ questions, increased levels of preparedness, and enhanced libraries’ existing community partnerships.

With the new funding, OCLC will magnify the role of public libraries as key contributors to community health efforts, especially to reach individuals who have limited access to reliable health information.

The project also will help library staff form community partnerships to increase health-related access and services. Specifically, OCLC will create guides, or “health competency pathways,” to help library staff advance health topic areas within their local communities; provide targeted support for individual public libraries to help them build relationships with local health-related organizations; promote engagement models by sharing print and multi-media case studies; and create communications tools including an infographic, audio and video interviews, and a communications guide to share relevant health information with public libraries nationwide.

“The ‘Health Happens in Libraries’ program continues to help libraries address critical health information needs in communities across the country,” said Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President for Global Marketing and the Americas. “We appreciate this generous grant from IMLS to help us build on this program to provide the support libraries need to get this vital information to library users.”

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 35,000 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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About ZeroDivide
ZeroDivide is a San Francisco-based 501(c)(3) social impact organization working at the intersections of community, technology and opportunity. We help underserved communities realize the transformative power of technology to improve economic opportunities, civic engagement and health outcomes. We empower people and communities that have been historically left out, using technology as a catalyst, a connector and an equalizer to engender opportunity. ZeroDivide inspires individuals to think big, work together and become agents of change in their communities.

About OCLC
Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research 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. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search on the Web. For more information, visit the OCLC website.

Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program