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Background Measuring the effectiveness of community outreach: The Community Medical School project Laura L. Haines, MLS, Outreach Librarian Dana Medical.

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Presentation on theme: "Background Measuring the effectiveness of community outreach: The Community Medical School project Laura L. Haines, MLS, Outreach Librarian Dana Medical."— Presentation transcript:

1 Background Measuring the effectiveness of community outreach: The Community Medical School project Laura L. Haines, MLS, Outreach Librarian Dana Medical Library, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont In 1998, the University of Vermonts College of Medicine (COM) and Fletcher Allen Health Care (FAHC) joined forces to create Community Medical School, an innovative public education program designed to bridge the gap between the institutions on the hill and the communities they serve. The program consists of a series of evening lectures on a wide range of contemporary health topics given each spring and fall by expert UVM and FAHC faculty. The series is widely The Dana Medical Library at the University of Vermont maintains a dynamic consumer health book collection that circulates freely to the public but generally sees low use. In 2004, Dana Medical Library augmented the Community Medical School experience by hosting a display table at each lecture with the goal of increasing community awareness and use of the Librarys collections and services. publicized in the local media and has attained a devoted following of students of all ages. The lectures are videotaped for distribution to libraries and to public access cable television stations around the state. Dana Medical Library Involvement at Community Medical School Initially focusing on selected books from the Librarys consumer health collection and reputable health information websites, the Librarys presence at Community Medical School has steadily grown, resulting in benefits that have far exceeded the initial goal. Results Objective Methods Conclusions Results Book display Promotional materials Laptop computer MedlinePlus materials Resources list Borrowing on-the-spot Promotional poster Patient education handouts Website Issuing consumer health borrowers cards Ancillary Benefits Improved relations with COM & FAHC Librarian on Community Medical School Advisory Committee Consumer Health Collection development Building additional collections: Medical Education Collection, for example Increase in materials borrowed Greater visibility in community Results Circulation statistics indicate an initial 26.8% increase in usage of the consumer health collection after library involvement in Community Medical School. Overall, however, the number of consumer health materials being borrowed is declining. This perhaps is due to the fact that in June 2005 the Library moved to a location less convenient to the public. The number of consumer health borrower cards issued increased 142.8% the first year the Library attended Community Medical School. Compared to the previous 5 years before involvement in Community Medical School, the Consumer Borrower Card program has been quite active. Dana Library joined Community Medical School Fall 2004 The Community Medical School Resources website was visited 5282 times between September 2006 and December Both the home page of the Resource Guide and various topic pages followed similar patterns, seeing higher usage during and directly Promotional poster displayed at Community Medical School. It is interesting to note that all topic pages see higher use during the lecture series, not just the topics covered in that particular series. This suggests that patrons look around the complete Community Medical School Resources site when they visit a page. Some pages remain popular long after the corresponding lecture. For example, the online Acupuncture Resource Guide, for example, continues to see traffic a full year after the original lecture date. Certain topic pages had an unusually high number of visitors. For example, 320 total visits for the online Exercise Resource Guide during a 7 month period, whereas the home page of the site (referring patrons to over 20 individual topic pages) had 386 total visits during the same 7 month period. This suggests that users are accessing the page not only through the Community Medical School Resources home page, to which there is a link from the lecture series home page on the College of Medicines website, but are finding the guide through other means, possibly search engines or other referring sites. Results from a survey question added in 2008 about the Librarys presence at Community Medical School indicate that 43% of users find the information helpful, while slightly fewer (35%) do not look at the display at all. after a Community Medical School lecture series, and tapering off in between the individual series. This study seeks to measure the effectiveness of a community outreach project designed to increase community members knowledge and use of consumer health information resources and services at the Dana Medical Library. The number of Consumer Health Borrower Cards issued each year from 1999 to 2007 was counted to determine if the presence of a Library display table at Community Medical School influenced community interest in being able to borrow materials from the Library. Likewise, the number of materials borrowed from the Consumer Health Collection each year from 1999 to 2007 was analyzed to measure any affect of Library involvement in Community Medical School on circulation of the Consumer Health Collection. In 2006 the Library began posting each Community Medical School lectures Library-created resource guide on the Librarys website, and linked to it from the Community Medical Schools website. The number of visits to the home page of this guide, as well as to individual topic pages, was analyzed to determine the usage of this added resource. Starting in spring 2008, attendees of Community Medical School lectures were asked for feedback on the Dana Librarys display table. The librarys outreach program to Community Medical School has had a positive impact on the use of services and collections marketed to consumers. The Consumer Health Borrower Card program has reaped the greatest benefit. While circulation of the Consumer Health Collection initially improved, thus meeting one of the goals of this outreach program, it has declined over time. In contrast, use of the online resources has been consistent, perhaps reflecting the trend toward use of online materials over print materials. Future analysis of the website patronage through tools like Google Analytics could prove to be useful in judging the effectiveness of Library initiatives and guiding decisions about future online content. Most importantly, however, many unexpected benefits are associated with the program, such as improved relations with the larger Academic Health Center and a higher quality of Library collections. This demonstrates that the effectiveness of a librarys community outreach program cannot be measured by quantitative means alone. Acknowledgements: I would like to thank colleagues Frances Delwiche, MLIS, Tina Kussey, MLS, and Donna OMalley, MLIS for their editing, formatting and number- crunching assistance. For further information: Please contact More information on this and related projects can be obtained at: library.uvm.edu/dana.


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