The Alliance Library System (ALS) is pleased to announce that the National Library of Medicine/Greater Midwest Region has awarded ALS a $40,000 grant to provide consumer health information services in the virtual world of Second Life. ALS is working on the project in partnership with the University of Illinois Library of the Health Sciences-Peoria, Central Medical Library, Unversity Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) in the Netherlands,. and TAP Information Services.
“Providing Consumer Health Outreach and Library Programs to Virtual World Residents in Second Life” will allow the Alliance Second Life Library to provide training programs, outreach to virtual medical communities, important consumer health resources, and one-on-one support to Second Life residents.
Second Life (http://www.secondlife.com) is a booming virtual world with over 1 million residents.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant as it builds on efforts we have already started in Second Life to provide library services,” stated Kitty Pope, Executive Director of the Alliance Library System.
“This will allow us to provide important information in a virtual world whose citizens may not come or may not be able to reach a traditional library. For instance there is a group for stroke victims. In real life they may be physically limited. In Second Life, they can fly and be whomever or whatever they choose to be. There are no limits.”
“People are often seeking health information at stressful times in their lives, such as when they are facing diagnosis and treatment decisions,” said Jo Dorsch, Director of the UIC Library of the Health Sciences-Peoria. “By providing reliable information to people at the point-of-need we hope that consumers will make better informed decisions that will affect their health care and quality of life.”
Carol Perryman, a doctoral student in Library and Information Science with a specialty in medical librarianship at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, will serve as Project Coordinator. “ Librarians interested in exploring new ways to meet the needs of users cannot fail to be intrigued and rewarded by the potential of Second Life,” said Carol Perryman.
“On the other side of the avatar’s screen very real people have very real health information needs – and the grant project will provide real help to these consumers. I am pleased to be working with Aliance and other partners on this pioneering effort.”
Perryman will team with Guus van den Brekel, who has developed a clinical medical library in Second Life to develop services. Lori Bell from ALS, Jo Dorsch, Peg Burnette and Sandy DeGroote from UIC-LHSP, and Tom Peters from TAP information Services will participate as part of the project team. The group will work with established support groups in Second Life and reach out to new patrons who have health information needs.
- The latest report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project says that 80 percent of American Internet users, or some 113 million adults, have searched for information on at least one of seventeen health topics.
- Most Internet users start at a general search engine when researching medical advice online.
- Just 15 percent of searchers say they “always” check the source and date of the information they find online, while another 10 percent say they do so “most of the time.”
- Fully three-quarters of health information seekers say they check the source and date “only sometimes,” “hardly ever” or “never,” which translates to about 85 million Americans gathering medical advice online without consistently examining the quality indicators of the information they find.
- Most seekers are pleased about what they find online, but some are frustrated or confused.
This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, under Contract NO1-LM-6-3503.
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