American Library Association, Walgreens team up to address healthcare concerns

June 24, 2004
Be Well Informed @ your library® initiative creates health information network through public libraries and Walgreens stores.

The American Library Association (ALA) and Walgreens have launched Be Well Informed @ your library®, a national health information initiative to respond to the nearly half of all American adults (90 million people) who have difficulty understanding and using health information (Institute of Medicine, April 2004). The program will combine the partners' community health resources to help guide the more than 40 percent of consumers who feel overwhelmed by the healthcare information available today (Harris Interactive, June 2004).

"Good decisions depend on good information," said ALA President Carla Hayden. "The Institute of Medicine health literacy report showed that people with poor understanding of health information were much more likely to be hospitalized and to visit emergency rooms. Be Well Informed @ your library will provide library users with accurate, timely and balanced information from personal, trusted sources within their communities: pharmacists and librarians."

Be Well Informed @ your library will address national health topics such as Medicare drug discount cards, how to manage rising healthcare costs, new medications and other topical health issues. While the program will target all Americans, there will be an emphasis on older Americans who tend to have the most questions, yet limited access to the Internet.

"We are focusing on the health issues that are foremost in the hearts and minds of Americans," said Walgreens President Jeff Rein. "By partnering the strengths of two reputable and trusted sources of information - pharmacists and librarians - Be Well Informed @ your library will reach more people with the reliable information they need."

Be Well Informed @ your library will bring pharmacists into the community through a series of health seminars led by Walgreen pharmacists and hosted by public libraries in 10 cities across the country in the first year of the partnership, November 2004 through November 2005. Since nearly half of American consumers use the library, either online or in person, as a resource to seek health-related information (Harris Interactive, June 2004), the seminar curriculum contents also will be made available online to all 16,400 libraries and 4,400 Walgreens stores nationwide.

"Health information on the Internet is sometimes unreliable and most of all overwhelming," Rein said. "Pharmacists are a personal, trusted source of health information who don't require an appointment. We serve four million customers a day, one fourth of them over 65. Combined with the number of library visits, there are millions of opportunities daily to have an impact on the health of the country."

In fact, a vast majority of consumers -- 70 percent -- trust their pharmacist as much or more than other health professionals, and 60 percent place a great importance on having the opportunity to interact with them (National Association of Chain Drug Stores, March 2004).

Be Well Informed @ your library is part of The Campaign for America's Libraries, a multi-year advocacy and public awareness effort that showcases libraries as places of opportunity where information is affordable, available and accessible to all people.

"While the Internet boasts an abundance of health information, 51 percent of consumers have difficulty separating credible online health information from that which is not trustworthy (Manhattan Research, May 2003)," Hayden said. "Local libraries offer Americans the ultimate search engine -- a librarian."