Library introduces ‘next generation’ in health information sharing
By Alex Branch
As UNT Health Science Center librarians, Lorraine Sheldon and Brandy Klug understand the difficulty local health organizations have coordinating the services they provide people.
As cancer survivors, they also know the difficulty people face finding reliable health information.
To help remove those barriers, Sheldon, Klug and a team from the Gibson D. Lewis Health Library created the Hope Directory, an innovative online directory of health organizations, programs and events.
“Libraries are creators of knowledge,” Sheldon said. “We can research and catalogue all that information to benefit the health organizations trying to help people and those people searching for health information.”
Funded by a grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Hope Directory allows users to search by keyword or browse directories of organizations, events and programs. A 2012 study suggested there are about 500 nonprofit community health-based organizations in Tarrant County.
The directory is unique because, unlike online web-crawling content gatherers, the information it provides is reviewed, verified and updated by UNTHSC librarians.
Sheldon and Klug, who were both treated for breast cancer in recent years, recalled the challenges they faced trying to determine what information they found online was current and trustworthy.
Many nonprofits don’t have full-time webmasters to update their websites or may lose funding for certain services one year and regain it the next year.
“With Hope Directory, we get on the phone and call the organization and update the information to ensure it is accurate,” Klug said.
Officials from community health organizations have praised the new tool.
“The Hope Directory is the next generation in sharing resources for our community,” said Anelia Banda, Executive Director of the Hispanic Wellness Coalition in Fort Worth. “The information can be updated in real time, keeping resources fresh and timely.”
The directory also serves as a useful tool for UNTHSC students. The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine is incorporating the feature into its community resource courses and can help students identify volunteer or educational opportunities with local organizations.
Nicoleta Bugnariu, PT, PhD, Vice Provost of Community Engagement and Service, said the teamwork and innovation that created the Hope Directory is one example of UNTHSC fulfilling its mission of creating solutions for a healthier community.
“We often hear that knowledge is power and information is liberating,” she said. “Through the Hope Directory, our librarians make available accurate, reliable information to improve lives and empower individuals, families and organizations.”
Visit the Hope Directory
Search the online directory of local health information.