Building a Health Literate Community

October is National Health Literacy Month. Health Literacy is the degree to which and individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. Librarians understand that information is the best tool for individuals to have when making these health decisions.

Libraries play an important role in health and wellness. That may be surprising to some individuals, but libraries can play an active role in assisting you to transform your life. L.E. Phillips Memorial Public library offers a variety of materials and services that can help you enhance your health literacy.

The state estimates that 55% of Eau Claire County is reading proficient. Our youth services team is on a mission to change that. L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library helps kindle the love of reading and learning so that children are set on track to enhance their own health and wellness as they grow. Youth services librarians build programming around physical and mental activities to engage all parts of the young reader. Our Early Literacy Outreach Librarian is particularly working hard to meet children where they are at and find ways to bring literacy to the greater community. Children in the Dabble Box may become the scientists of tomorrow that solve our world health crises. All you need to invest in your child’s literacy is your time. The library has dozens of Dabble Box kits that enhance children’s skills in coping, science, math, cooking, reading, dexterity and more!

Libraries keep you and your family healthy. The seed library each spring provides free seeds for starting your own healthy garden. It does not need to be huge, starting with a couple potted plants is ok too! If you are a beginner try checking out one of the many gardening books at the library to find out how to get started.

Librarians are information experts that possess the ability to help you find information on a variety of subject matters, with no judgement. Staff can help you find those workout DVD’s that you would like to try at home because the gym is too intimidating. (I get it!) They can also help you find everything from cookbooks, to self-help books on mental health, and everything in between. L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library also has Wellness Kits to check out. These cover a variety of topics including mindfulness, happiness, vision, breathing, qigong, detoxing, and more. Wellness is multidimensional, and librarians are prepared to help you round out your wellness with a variety of tools.  

There are over 1,200 health conditions with a genetic basis (U.S. National Library of Medicine). Librarians can educate customers on how to utilize ancestry research services so that you can become empowered to understand how your genetic background plays into your health. Genetic history is a good indicator for risk factors for disease, and this knowledge can put you back in control to compact these risk factors.

I, the Community Resources Specialist, assist individuals who are faltering on their journey by directing them to library and community resources that will help them meet their health and wellness goals. We sit down and talk about what is going well, and what is not going so well in their lives. Together we set goals and break down the steps needed to meet these goals. We look at what they can do on their own, what they need more information about that the librarians can help them with, and what they will need a referral for outside services for. This more intensive one-on-one time can get people on track when they do not know where to start.

An informed community is a healthier community. Eau Claire County is ranked 33rd out of the 72 counties in Wisconsin in overall health and wellness (University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute). I think that we can continue to do better. In collaboration with community partners, we bring health and wellness programming to you. Keep an eye out for library events to see how you can incorporate activities into your and your family’s lives to enhance the many domains of your wellbeing. Trying something new can be a huge step in your wellness journey. Let your library partner with you on this adventure.


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