Facilitating rural access to quality health information through Little Free Libraries





Health Sciences Libraries, Public Libraries, Community Outreach, Community Engagement, Health Literacy, Consumer Health


Background: In 2020 the Health Science Center Libraries (HSCL) at the University of Florida collaborated with the Okeechobee County Public library (OCPL) on their plan to install Little Free Libraries (LFLs) within their community. It was agreed that the HSCL would provide consumer health-related materials for the Little Free Libraries and training with the goal of improving health literacy, precision medicine, and increasing rural access to consumer health materials and services.

Case Presentation: Using census data, the County Health Improvement Plan, and OCPL circulation data the team identified minority population groups, potential accessibility issues, and local consumer health information needs and barriers to select appropriate resources. Additionally, partnerships were created with the local Health Department, Parks and Recreation services, the Rotary Club, and other local organizations to make the project a success. A total of 424 books were selected for the LFLs and 40 unique online resources were selected, printed, and shipped to OCPL to be used during LFL reference sessions. Technology was purchased to assist OCPL with their planned community health reference outreach sessions. HSCL created and provided online training on facilitating consumer health outreach, conducting health information reference services, and promoting community engagement for OCPL.

Discussion: LFLs have become an important resource for lower-income rural families in Okeechobee. There are 7 LFLs in Okeechobee County, with a goal of eventually establishing 15 total to provide vital health resources and books. Over 2,456 items have been circulated among the 7 LFLs since May 2020. Overall, the project has been successful with positive feedback received from the community and with OCPL planning to continue to expand the project.


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Case Report