Reaching HEALthy is an initiative that seeks to establish the Free Library of Philadelphia as an essential health care resource for the community. Its first initiative is bringing health literacy programs, health counseling and referrals, and preventive health services to the Central Parkway Branch.
The mission of libraries has always been to provide its community with equitable and accessible means to various resources. From providing programs to increase children’s literacy to helping job seekers find employment, the Free Library is integral in addressing community needs. Now, the Free Library will also offer connection to health information and resources.
This project will take an integrative approach to health, offering comprehensive programs and services that will address physical, mental, and social aspects of health. The initiative will also pioneer one of the first interprofessional health care models with social workers, nurses, and librarians.
According to a 2013 survey of Americans’ attitudes surrounding public libraries, 47% of patrons reported using library computers to obtain health information. The mission of the Reaching HEALthy initiative, which developed from a National Library of Congress-funded collaboration between Penn Nursing and the Free Library, seeks to fill this important health needs gap. Melanie Mariano, a registered nurse and a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, will assist library patrons in obtaining reliable health information and getting connected to sought-out health resources. As a practitioner in the library, Mariano hopes to provide consistent and direct health service connection in the FLP while assisting with health insurance connection, health education and literacy, and preventive health services.
The Reaching HEALthy initiative is supported by the University of Pennsylvania’s President’s Engagement Prize.