Resources for Public Libraries

How to Use this Guide

The content of this guide is not meant to be comprehensive but a good starting point. Items are primarily for library staff to use in their work but you may find many of these resources are appropriate and useful to offer your patrons. Consider ways to incorporate into programs and services that best benefit your communities.

Below are just a few examples.

  • Include some of the resources into subjects guides (e.g. disease outbreaks, nutrition, natural disasters, misinformation)
  • Provide MedlinePlus brochures at a health programming event 
  • Highlight national health observances by highlighting health topics from MedlinePlus 

Consumer Health

Health information written for the consumer, or the members of the general public who are not health professionals is referred to as “consumer health information”. Although you probably will not hear the general public refer to consumer health or consumer health information. “Consumer health” is an industry term referring to a wide variety of things related to the health of the consumer or the user of health services. This includes services, issues, and the industry itself.

The rise of the internet and the wellness industry has empowered people to make decisions about their own health. People are consumers of health information in ways that were not possible 50 years ago.

Health Literacy

Healthy People 2030 has redefined health literacy to include both personal health literacy and organizational health literacy. 

  • Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. Examples of personal health literacy are being able to evaluate the health information they find online or knowing how to take medication.
  • Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. Examples of organizational health literacy are providing evidence-based health information that is easy to find or using social media toolkits to provide awareness of health conditions and to reduce stigma.

People with limited health literacy often struggle to or are less likely to:

  • Access health care services
  • Adopt healthy behaviors
  • Communicate with health care providers
  • Evaluate information for credibility and quality
  • Locate health information
  • Use preventative services
  • Understand prescription labels or instructions
  • This can lead to poorer health, a lower quality of life, and more expensive health costs, including more emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

By providing health information and programs, your library can help improve your community’s health literacy and health.

Learn more about health literacy at MedlinePlus.


NNLM provides classes and webinars focusing on health related topics including consumer health.

Check the list of scheduled classes (including on-demand) and recordings. Many are eligible for the Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) offered through the Medical Library Association.

CHIS On Demand includes 5 independent 1-hour learning modules cover the basics of providing consumer health information in libraries and organizations. These 5 classes cover the core competencies required to obtain Level 1 of CHIS.

Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) Sponsorship

The Medical Library Association Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) offers training in providing health information services to consumers and recognition for the accomplishment of acquiring new health information skills.

CHIS courses are offered by the NNLM at no cost. It is easy to meet the requirements for both levels with NNLM courses. There is a cost for earning your CHIS, but currently the NNLM is covering that cost. Learn more about how you can obtain CHIS through the NNLM.

Membership for your Library

NNLM provides resources to help enrich your programs. Join our free membership network to take advantage of all that we have to offer. Membership is institutional, not individual.

Members are eligible to take advantage of services that include:

  • Your organization will be listed in the NNLM Membership Directory where you can connect with organizations to network and partner
  • Training on NLM Resources with classes customized to meet the needs of your organization (check our class catalog for ideas and options)
  • Free informational materials for order and download on National Library of Medicine (NLM) resources
  • Provide free informational materials featuring National Library of Medicine (NLM) resources to exhibit at conferences and health fairs in your communities
  • Funding opportunities for consumer health outreach and for traveling exhibits
  • Grant and proposal writing information

Visit the Health Information section of this Public Libraries Guide for selected quality health information resources. 

Tools to Evaluate Health Information

An enormous amount of health information is available online including the news, social media, and websites. It can be stressful and overwhelming trying to figure out what are good sources of information. Several tools to evaluate health information are available to help you and your patrons.

Evaluating Health Information
MedlinePlus provides a list of vetted resources all in one webpage.

Trust It or Trash It,
This tool provides 3 simple questions help to critically evaluate health information. The Genetic Alliance video tells you more. Though the date on the website is older, the information remains useful.

Find Good Health Information
The Medical Library Association includes information for patients and the public to help guide them in finding quality health information resources.

Health Misinformation Checklist
This handy checklist is part of the U.S. Surgeon General's Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation which is listed further down this webpage.

Online Health Information: Is It Reliable?
This NIH National Institute on Aging information webpage addresses websites, social media, apps, and more and is helpful for all ages.

How To Evaluate Health Information on the Internet: Questions and Answers
More than just a checklist, this NIH Office of Dietary Supplements fact sheet uses a Q&A format to address health information evaluation.

Finding and Evaluating Online Resources
The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health offers guidance starting off with what is most important to know and then provides more in-depth information as you scroll down the webpage. 

Health Misinformation Toolkit

The Surgeon General’s Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation provides specific guidance and resources for health care providers, educators, librarians, faith leaders, and trusted community members to understand, identify, and stop the spread of health misinformation in their communities. It includes:

  • Lessons
  • Activities
  • Infographics
  • Checklist to evaluate information
  • Tips to talk to friends, family, and your community

Additional Information Evaluation Tools 

Note, some of these tools may focus more on students or researchers. However, they are still helpful to use for evaluating health information. 

SIFT (The Four Moves): 

CRAAP Test: 

RADAR Framework: 

Evaluating News Stories:

  • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) infographic, How To Spot Fake News
  • In November 2020 the American Library Association made available the toolkit, Media Literacy in the Library: A Guide for Library Practitioners, to aid and support libraries in addressing news questions and to help increase the media literacy of their communities.
  • American Library Association’s Evaluation Resources is a collection of resources for librarians to use to equip students and the public to identify reliable sources of news and other information. 

Guides to Finding Good Health Information Online

Health Information Resources

MedlinePlus is an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends. MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Health Information
NIH isn't just for biomedical professionals. Information for the public is included on the primary NIH Health Information webpages with links to educational resources, health information, and the monthly NIH Health In News publication. NIH Health in News can be linked from your library's website, downloaded and printed, and can be ordered in bulk to provide to your patrons. Spanish-language health information from across NIH in one place. Also, visit each of the 27 institutes and centers at NIH where you'll find additional health information for the public and for your library.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is part of the National Institutes of Health, is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on the diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.

Drug Information

MedlinePlus: Drugs and Supplements
Health Topic Page Drugs & Supplements includes information about prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. Includes side effects, dosage, special precautions, and more. Browse dietary supplements and herbal remedies to learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.

Herbs at a Glance
Herbs at a Glance is located on the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) website and is also available as the HerbList app. Herbs at a Glance is a series of brief fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals—common names, what the science says, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information.

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) fact sheets give a current overview of individual vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements.

Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed)
The LactMed database contains information on drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's webpage for consumers contains information about how to stay safe and healthy. The FDA webpage for patients has information on treatments, drugs, and medical devices, including approvals and recalls.


National Library of Medicine
The National Library of Medicine (NLM), on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, has been a center of information innovation since its founding in 1836. The world’s largest biomedical library, NLM maintains and makes available a vast print collection and produces electronic information resources on a wide range of topics that are searched billions of times each year by millions of people around the globe. It also supports and conducts research, development, and training in biomedical informatics and health information technology.

PubMed is a free resource supporting the search and retrieval of biomedical and life sciences literature with the aim of improving health–both globally and personally. The PubMed database contains more than 30 million citations and abstracts of biomedical literature. It does not include full-text journal articles; however, links to the full text are often present when available from other sources, such as the publisher's website or PubMed Central (PMC).

PubMed Central® (PMC)
PMC is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). Today, PMC contains more than 7 million full-text records, spanning several centuries of biomedical and life science research (late 1700s to present). Though the articles are free to access, copyright restrictions may still apply (see the PMC Copyright Notice). is a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world. is a resource provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Open-i: Open Access Biomedical Image Search Engine
Open-i is a service of the National Library of Medicine enables search and retrieval of abstracts and images (including charts, graphs, clinical images, etc.) from the open source literature, and biomedical image collections. Searching may be done using text queries as well as query images. Open-i provides access to over 3.7 million images from about 1.2 million PubMed Central® articles; 7,470 chest x-rays with 3,955 radiology reports; 67,517 images from NLM History of Medicine collection; and 2,064 orthopedic illustrations.

Spanish Language Resources

MedlinePlus en español
MedlinePlus en español is the Spanish-language version of MedlinePlus for consumer health information.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Spanish Health Information Portal
NIH provides health information from across its many institutes and offices in one place. In addition, the Ask Carla (Pregunta a Carla) feature invites users to ask questions and to add comments about finding health information. You can also visit the websites of individual NIH institutes, offices, and centers to find health information that might be offered in additional languages. en español
From the National Cancer Institute, a division of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Locate information on cancer for both health professionals, patients, and consumers in Spanish.

HIVinfo's Spanish-language page has information on clinical trials, drug database and general consumer health information in Spanish on AIDS.

MiBuscadorDeSalud is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services together with other federal agencies, and coordinated by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and supported by the National Health Information Center. en español en español features extensive links to health, nutrition and safety websites from the federal government, many PDF documents in Spanish.

CDC en español
CDC en español from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Excellent coverage of public health topics such as vaccinations, flus and colds, pre-natal care, diabetes, obesity, etc.

World Health Organization - Organizacion Mundial de la Salud
World Health Organization offers Health topics pages provide links to descriptions of activities, reports, news and events, as well as contacts and cooperating partners in the various WHO programs and offices, along with links to related web sites and topics.

Office of Minority Health en español
Office of Minority Health operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on funding, data/statistics, cultural competency, health topics and minority populations and is available in Spanish. & & from Nemours offers different pages for Parents, Kids, and Teens on health information topics relevant to each group.


Health Resources in Multiple Languages

MedlinePlus: Health Information in Multiple Languages
The Health Information in Multiple Languages page on MedlinePlus includes consumer health information resources, such as printable patient education handouts, in over 60 languages. You can browse these resources by either health topic or language.

Office of Refugee Resettlement
The Office of Refugee Resettlement provides health information relevant to refugee populations, including material on health promotion, insurance, emotional wellness, and services for survivors of torture.

EthnoMed contains information to help you provide culturally relevant health information and programming for a wide range of audiences. It covers topics such as immigration, specific cultural values and norms to be aware of, and information on common experiences that might affect attitudes toward Western medicine.

Centers for Disease Control
CDC Resources in Languages other than English provides information and materials available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website translated into other languages. Topics include emergency preparedness and response, diseases and conditions, data and statistics, environmental health, healthy living, injury, violence and safety, life stages and populations, traveler's health, and workplace safety and health among others. The information comes in various formats available for sharing and downloading. All of the resources are free to print and share.  

iSpeak Cards
iSpeak cards, developed by the Washington State Coalition for Language Access, are tools to assist people in requesting the service of an interpreter. You can print these cards, which are available in over 30 languages, and make them available for community members to more easily receive interpretation services in health care settings. More language identification tools, I Speak Cards, and other resources are also available at to support language access services.

MedlinePlus Health Topics by Population

Office of Minority Health Population Profiles

NNLM Training on Multicultural and Multilingual Health Information

Providing Multilingual and Multicultural Health Information 

Substance Use Disorders Resources

Substance Abuse Problems is a MedlinePlus category with a wide range of health topics such as: 

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
NIDA is the lead federal agency supporting scientific research on drug use and its consequences. Learn the facts about the most commonly used drugs. Each drug page includes a brief overview, street and clinical names, the effects of the drug on the brain and body, statistics and trends, and relevant publications and articles written by NIDA researchers and scientists. Learn about stigma and why words matter when talking about addiction. Information for parents and educators is also available.

NIH Heal Initiative
The Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative, is an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Almost every NIH Institute and Center is accelerating research to address this public health emergency from all angles. The initiative is funding hundreds of projects nationwide.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advances research on drinking and alcohol's impact on health. The Alcohol's Effects on Health tab includes information about specific alcohol topics, getting help, and intervention. 

Get Smart about Drugs
Get Smart About Drugs is a United States Government, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website with resources for parents, educators, & caregivers for identifying recreational and illegal drugs.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) 
SAMHSA provides extensive information for health professionals but also for libraries and the public. Take the time to tour the website to locate information for your patrons and communities. Free handouts can be downloaded and ordered and social media tools are available. Treatment locators, directories, and more. Consider signing up for their newsletter (sign-up is located at the bottom of the home webpage).

Drug Disposal Information

U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration: Drug Disposal Information
Some of the information on this webpage may not be applicable to libraries but links to dispose of unused medications is listed. 

Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know
Resource from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on how to dispose of unused or expired drugs.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
In April and October every year, the U.S. Department of Justice reminds us to dispose properly of all unused prescriptions on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Google Maps
Google Maps has an enhanced feature to help you locate a drop-off site. Here's how to use it:

  1. On a computer, phone, or another device, visit
  2. Type "drug disposal near me" in the search bar.

Additional Resources

NNLM Substance Use Disorders Guide: This NNLM guide is a more comprehensive list of resources and information.  

Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities is a project of OCLC and PLA with resources for public libraries including news, webinars, and publications about opioid use in libraries.

Not Just Narcan: America’s opioid crisis forces U.S. public libraries to take a proactive approach to reduce stigma and harm Library Journal, May 2019

How Naloxone Saves Lives in Opioid Overdose Naloxone saves lives. This video from the National Library of Medicine reviews when naloxone is used, how it is administered, and the way it works. Also in Spanish: Cómo la naloxona salva vidas por sobredosis de opioids.

Recorded NNLM Webinar

NNLM hosted a webinar session focusing on the opioid crisis in October, 2020. 

Crisis Helplines

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Call or text 988 or chat
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. (Please note, the previous 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number will continue to function indefinitely.)

SAMHSA's National Helpline
1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA's National Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish.

Disaster Distress Helpline
Text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth.​ Call, Chat, or Text to get immediate help.

NAMI HelpLine: National Alliance on Mental Illness
1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or
NAMI HelpLine and lists additional crisis support information on their website.

Crisis Text Line
Text “HOME” to 741741
Crisis Text Line is available for any crisis, connect by text to a trained crisis counselor who can respond in real time from a secure online platform.

Veterans Crisis Line
Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis with qualified and caring Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) responders. Uses private, free hotline, chat, or text.  Also for families and friends of veterans.

Text “teen2teen” to 839863
YouthLine is a free, confidential teen-to-teen crisis and help line. Available from 4-10 Pacific Time (adults available by phone at all other times).

Behavioral Health Resources

MedlinePlus: Mental Health and Behavior
MedlinePlus includes a listing of health topics related to mental health and behavior. Each of those health topic pages is organized to make it easier to locate specific information such as diagnosis and treatment. MedlinePlus Mental Health topic page is a general information page that includes many mental health resources, as well as drug information, directories of providers/facilities, a medical dictionary, medical encyclopedia and more. from the Department of Health & Human Services provides one-stop access to U.S. government mental health and mental health problems information.

National Institute of Mental Health
National Institute of Mental Health is the leading federal agency for research on mental disorders.  A source for general information, shareable graphics for social media, and current research news

CDC Mental Health Tools and Resources
The Centers for Disease Control consumer-friendly site for learning about and participating in mental health.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) 
SAMHSA provides extensive information for health professionals but also for libraries and the public. Take the time to tour the website to locate information for your patrons and communities. Free handouts can be downloaded and ordered and social media tools are available. Treatment locators, directories, and more. Consider signing up for their newsletter (sign-up is located at the bottom of the home webpage).

Library Services for People with Mental Illnesses
ALA Guidelines for and tips for serving people with mental illnesses.

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI empowers consumers to take action, find social support for their illness and fight stigma. NAMI is a nonprofit, grassroots, self-help, support and advocacy organization of consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illnesses. Resources include statistics, educational materials, and local chapters.

Mental Health America
Mental Health America and its 200+ affiliates and associates around the country provide support, advocacy, and resources to address mental health needs and to promote mental health for all.

Finding Providers and Treatment

The crisis lines listed above are also a great resource for finding treatment and mental health professionals. Below are additional directories for finding treatment.

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator is a directory of alcohol, drug, or mental health treatment facilities and programs around the country.

American Psychological Association: Psychologist Locator
APA: Psychologist Locator is a searchable directory to help you find a psychologist near you.

NNLM Trainings on Mental Health

Health Programming Resources

NNLM Reading Club 
The NNLM Reading Club is a selection of “ready-to-use” book titles along with free and downloadable materials designed to help libraries support the health information needs in their communities. Through the fun and intimacy of a book club, readers will discuss health and wellness topics important to them and their loved ones as well as discover NIH National Library of Medicine evidence-based consumer health resources.

Let’s Move in Libraries 
Let’s Move in Libraries is a great place for library professionals to be inspired by, learn about and share excellent program ideas to get their communities moving.

Programming Librarian: Health and Wellness 
Programming Librarian is a searchable database of library program ideas from the American Library Association Public Programs Office.

Public Library Association 
Public Library Association Health Resources has the tools, program ideas and primers you need to stay up-to- date on health literacy topics from PLA.

WebJunction: Health Happens in Libraries 
WebJunction: Health Happens at Libraries is a program that magnifies the role of public libraries as key contributors to community health. Visit for health information news, resources, and webinars for public libraries.

Evaluation Resources

Public Library Association Logo 
Project Outcome 
Project Outcome from the Public Library Association is a FREE online toolkit designed to help public libraries understand and share the impact of essential library programs and services by providing simple surveys and an easy-to-use process for measuring and analyzing outcomes.

NNLM Evaluation Center provides some resources important in library programming including the 5 Steps to an Evaluation Plan.

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Evaluation Resources

Evaluation Guide for Public Libraries is a 32 page downloadable guide developed for the Urban Libraries Council through an IMLS grant.

American Library Association's Planning and Evaluation webpage

National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment (NILPPA) is not an evaluation tool but via NILPPA the American Library Association is collecting data from libraries across the country about the impact of library services and programs. 

NNLM Funding

The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) provides funding including for projects to improve access to health information. If your library has a health related project, we encourage you to apply. Funding is for organizational members of NNLM. This membership is free.

The NNLM is made up of 7 geographical regions and funding is specific to each region. Check the map to see which region your organization resides. Sign up for your region's newsletter or listerv to receive funding announcements. You can also contact your region's office to ask questions.

See what funding is available and learn more about past funded projects.

Additional Reading

Wahowiak, L. (2018, October 1). Libraries, public health work together on Community Health: Settings serve as community hubs. The Nation's Health. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from

Mead, A. (2021, November 18). Rural Libraries Help Communities Access Health Information. The Rural Monitor. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from

Public Health and Public Libraries. Midwestern Public Health Training Center. (2021, May 22). Retrieved September 21, 2022, from  

NNLM Classes

How to Apply for NNLM Funding is a one hour webinar presenting a general overview of grant and funding processes, as well as the level of detail required for a successful proposal.

A Librarian's Guide to Consumer Health is an online class held over several weeks about the basics of providing consumer health information services and programming.

Consumer Health Collection Management

The consumer health books, relied on by many libraries in the past, are no longer available. Medical associations and healthcare organizations no longer publish printed resources as the Internet has become more widely used. Below are links to various online collections, including some print materials provided by library and other related associations. Consider adding to your library’s shelves and or links to your the library's online presence such as the catalog and subject guides.

Consumer Health Resources

Often professional medical associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics website offer their publications for purchase. Be aware that this usually includes publications for healthcare professionals as well as for the public.

Organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) may offer books for the library’s collection but also brochures and tools to purchase and offer your patrons in a program or just to hand out. 

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH includes health information for the public in both English and Spanish.

The monthly newsletter, NIH News in Health can be ordered for your library. 

Consider visiting each of the NIH institutes and centers to access health information for the public. 

Some NIH institutes and centers have publications your library can download for free or order for free such as: 

Additional Resource Lists 

Visit the Health Information section of this Public Libraries Guide for selected quality health information resources. 

NNLM Reading Club titles: The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) selects 3 books each month to highlight health. The kit includes information about each book, information about the health topic, and book club discussion questions.

The Diverse Voices in Health & Medicine Collections Toolkit: Available are four collection categories of books libraries can consider to add to their collections. The list of books is a compilation from NNLM funding received by 27 libraries and organizations. The PDF lists are searchable.

Medical Library Association:

Graphic Medicine Resources

Many graphic medicine books address the topic of health, including mental health, creating a unique opportunity for readers to learn about healthcare experiences.

“Graphic Medicine is the intersection of the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare.” 

-Ian Williams, MD and cartoonist

NNLM Region 7 and Graphic Medicine 
Region 7 provides its members with a Community of Interest with access to graphic medicine book club toolkits. For those not in Region 7, book discussion guides are available.
A hub for graphic medicine news, reviews, an associated podcast, and an annual conference.
Spanish language sister site to

Graphic Medicine YouTube Playlist
A collection of graphic medicine webinars and videos.

Graphic Novels & the Humanity of Mental Illness
An ALA-funded annotated bibliography of graphic novel titles which can be browsed by title or diagnosis.
A site with classroom-friendly graphic medicine content, including videos.

Annals Graphic Medicine
The medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, includes an affiliated site which collects comics and graphics made by those who give and receive healthcare, aiming to address medically-relevant topics.

National Library of Medicine Exhibition Program

The Exhibition Program strives to promote greater understanding and awareness of how the past informs the present and can shape the future. The freely available online exhibitions feature curated selections of digitized books, images, ephemera, films, and historical documents from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Digital Collections, the library’s health information resources, educational activities, and more. One exhibits focus on comics.

  • Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived and Well-Drawn! 
    This exhibit explores an increasingly popular literary field that presents personal illness narratives and health information through the medium of comics. The exhibition highlights comics or graphic novels which your library may want to consider adding to its collection. 

NNLM Training on Collection Management

Consumer Health Collection Management – on demand 

What Can Libraries Do About Health Insurance?

Public libraries are located in nearly every community in the United States and are recognized as a valuable community resource, offering public meeting spaces, computers, expert searching, and allowing for quiet conversations-making them a natural location for trained counselors to provide outreach and education efforts.

Libraries can play a significant role in their communities with opportunities to provide essential information regarding the Affordable Care Act through a variety of services and programs.

What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Obama. This landmark legislation allows for greater accessibility for many Americans who previously were unable to afford health care insurance or were declined access due to eligibility requirements.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is where individuals, families, and small businesses can learn about health coverage options, compare insurance plans, select a plan and enroll. Information is also available on programs to help those with low to moderate incomes including ways to save money on monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs through the Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Health Insurance Resources is your primary resource for information about the Health Insurance Marketplace as well as about the ACA for the consumer and is available in English and Spanish. Consider signing up for email and text updates for reminders and other important information. The blog also offers great information to keep you updated including how to prepare for the next enrollment whether you are new to the Health Insurance Marketplace or are already enrolled.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created it also provides information about the ACA law, some facts and features, including a roadmap to health and better care that explains what health coverage is and how to use it. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been designated as the HHS division responsible for the rollout of ACA. CMS provides information about the initiative, From Coverage to Care, to help people understand their insurance benefits once they enroll.

MedlinePlus has a topic page on Health Insurance with several links related to the Affordable Care Act as well as handouts in English and Spanish including topics such as understanding health insurance plans and healthcare costs.

Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA), worked in partnership with Community Catalyst and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to provide several resources to better prepare library staff to support patrons as they navigate the enrollment process for health insurance. The Libraries Connecting You to Coverage initiative has ended but libraries may find some of the resources informative. Be aware, information has not been updated since at least 2021.

Listed below are selected tutorials from PLA's Digital Learn training resource for the public and library staff.

Organizing for Outreach 
Organizing for Outreach is an initiative, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to support enrollment efforts across the country. It serves as a resource to support your Marketplace and Medicaid outreach efforts.

My Health, My Voice
My Health, My Voice is the result of a need by newly insured women who were having trouble using their insurance. Though it was developed specifically with women in mind, it works with a diverse audience and is available in Spanish and English, with several print-ready resources. The guide is written in clear, easy-to-read information including 5 Steps to Care, free preventative services, costs, and more when using health insurance. My Health, My Voice is a project of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need with Parsons The New School for Design and the Ms. Foundation for Women.

Own Your Own Health (Washington Health Alliance) 
The Own Your Health website contains articles and resources to help everyone make sure they are getting high quality care and a good experience at a fair price. Selecting a Health Plan includes short but informative health insurance topics, including a 5 minute video. Though the website is from the Washington Health Alliance, information is not state specific. 

Health Insurance Literacy Initiative
University of Maryland Extension and University of Delaware Cooperative Extension collaborated to launch the Health Insurance Literacy Initiative (HILI). HILI has produced evidence-based, empowerment programs intended to reduce confusion, increase capability, and increase the confidence of consumers to make a smart choice and use decisions about health insurance. Their website includes information and resources for consumers, educators, and farmers. 

Insured and Informed: Your Health Insurance Guide
The University of Arkansas for Medical Services (UAMS) Center for Health Literacy provides a freely available online course for patients and the public to learn about health insurance called Insured and Informed: Your Health Insurance Guide. You can go at your own pace and when it is convenient for you. The course covers the basics of health insurance including sections about the importance of health insurance, what your insurance plan may pay for, finding a doctor covered by the insurance plan, how to change your insurance plan, and more. 

Medicare and Medicaid Resources

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website includes several resources and information including training and outreach materials. However, the Medicare, Medicaid, and Insure Kids Now websites are more specifically focused on the public. Consider partnering with local agencies associated with Medicare and Medicaid.


  • Medicare website
  • Medicare and You handbook to download in several formats including PDF (large print PDF available), audio,  and ebook. Braille and paper formats can be ordered for free.


Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health coverage to eligible children, through both Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. CHIP is administered by states, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.

Recorded NNLM Webinar

NNLM hosted a webinar session focusing on health insurance and libraries on November, 2023. 

Order Publications for your Library

Locate your Regional Medical Library to see what materials you can order or print for free online to distribute at your health outreach events. An organizational membership to your local NNLM Regional Medical Library may be required to order materials. Membership is free.

Order or download for free, these National Library of Medicine resource brochures.

Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) also provides a variety of guides with resources to use when needing health information. 


Toolkits can make programming and services easier to implement. Many provide graphics, social media messages, and resources. Toolkits exist for libraries but also look for toolkits from agencies and organizations that can benefit your community such as those about mental health, substance misuse, and disaster planning. Below are some sample websites:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), make sure to visit each institute which may highlight a national health observance or toolkit.
  • Sign up for the Office of Minority Health newsletter where each week you can see a list of curated resources which often include toolkits.
  • SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) 988 Partner Toolkit includes communication outreach materials regarding the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline.

National Health Observances: highlights a national health observance each month with links to resources to highlight.

The Surgeon General’s Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation provides specific guidance and resources for health care providers, educators, librarians, faith leaders, and trusted community members to understand, identify, and stop the spread of health misinformation in their communities. It includes:

  • Lessons
  • Activities
  • Infographics
  • Checklist to evaluate information
  • Tips to talk to friends, family, and your community

NNLM Reading Club: The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) selects 3 books each month to highlight health. The kit includes information about each book, information about the health topic, and book club discussion questions.

The Diverse Voices in Health & Medicine Collections Toolkit: Available are four collection categories of books libraries can consider to add to their collections. The list of books is a compilation from NNLM funding received by 27 libraries and organizations. The PDF lists are searchable.

Birthing Persons Toolkit: This toolkit was created through an iSchool Capstone project over seen by the NNLM Region 5 staff. The toolkit includes a patron handout and resources for library staff.

We Can Do This: COVID-19 Education Campaign: The American Library Association partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to share trusted vaccine information. Explore the website for resources and toolkits.

Media Literacy @ the Library: The American Library Association and partners put together this toolkit to better equip library workers to help their patrons increase their news literacy skills. 

Rural Libraries and Social Wellbeing: The Rural Library and Social Wellbeing project studied at the impact of libraries on the social wellbeing of rural communities. Resources and a toolkit are available to use.

MyPlate: MyPlate is a resource from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). It provides resources and guidance to help everyone eat healthier. A list of toolkits is available. The toolkits for Community and Professional Organizations AND the Communicators and Educators both contain information public libraries will find useful.

The Health Literacy Toolkit was a result of a partnership between the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) and The American Library Association (ALA) through the Libraries Transform public awareness campaign. This Libraries Transform toolkit provides key messages, program ideas and downloadable marketing materials, including bookmark templates and social media graphics, for libraries to use as they promote health literacy in October and throughout the year. 

Libraries Transform logo