What characterizes a successful outreach project? What approaches work in different settings? How is outreach to public health professionals different from that to other health professionals? What are some of the barriers, and solutions, to reaching out from an academic environment to a community practice setting? How can the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and health science librarians nationally reach out to the public health community more effectively in the future? A forum to explore these and other questions was held at NLM on April 4-5, 2001. The agenda appears below with links to slide presentations. The program focused on NLM-funded outreach directed to public health professionals. More than 20 projects form the core of this effort. Background information about these projects can be found at: projects.html
A considerable amount of experience and information was accumulated from this
work which covered 2-3 years.
Through focused panel sessions and discussions, participants hoped to distill that experience and information into knowledge, and perhaps even some wisdom, about what works and what is a good investment for future outreach. Papers from the Forum appear in a Special Report section of the October 2001 issue of the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association (Volume 89, Number 4).
Information has been gathered on NLM-funded public health outreach projects. The committee planning the forum analyzed this information with the intent to learn, among other things, what these projects have in common and what are unusual or unique aspects. Panels were held on such topics as 1) assessing the information needs of public health professionals and research questions associated with attempting to do that, 2) based on assessed needs, determining objectives and evaluating the outcomes, 3) effective means of making national, state, and local information resources available (via websites, e.g.), and 4) partnerships between libraries and public health entities and project sustainability. Invited speakers from the public health community also addressed how this is viewed from the other side of the equation -- from the perspective of those who are the targets of this outreach -- and introduced actual applications of knowledge support to public health problems.
Representatives from the outreach projects participated in the forum, along with staff from each of the Regional Medical Libraries, several NLM staff, and representatives from many public health agencies and organizations. The members of the forum steering committee were: Neil Rambo, University of Washington, chair; Kris Markovich Alpi, Weill Medical College of Cornell University; Catherine Burroughs, University of Washington; Marj Cahn, National Library of Medicine; Jocelyn Rankin, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Joan Zenan, University of Nevada-Reno.
PUBLIC HEALTH OUTREACH FORUM
April 4-5, 2001
National Library of Medicine
Lister Hill Center Auditorium
PANEL 1 - Assessing Information Needs of the Public Health Workforce
PANEL 2 - Fulfilling Information Needs with National/State/Local Web Resources
PANEL 3 - Identifying Outreach Objectives and Related Outcomes
PANEL 4 - Strengthening Outreach Through Partnerships and Sustainability