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|Grossman S.; Erwin L.J.; Martinez-Donate A.; Agosto D.E.; Winston M.; Epstein N.; Klassen A.C.
|Provision of health-related information for immigrant patrons in public libraries in a large US city
Grossman S.; Erwin L.J.; Martinez-Donate A.; Agosto D.E.; Winston M.; Epstein N.; Klassen A.C. Provision of health-related information for immigrant patrons in public libraries in a large US city,International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care 18 3
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|Purpose: Public libraries can help immigrants adjust to life in the USA, including maintaining health and well-being. The purpose of this study was to understand how immigrants use public libraries and how library staff provide health-related information and services for immigrant audiences. Design/methodology/approach: This study used semistructured interviews with library staff (n = 9) and immigrant library patrons (n = 10), representing multiple first languages and countries of origin from two different library locations within a large public library system in a US mid-Atlantic city. Findings: Staff reported offering many health-related programs and services, but only one of the 10 patron respondents had used them. Patrons more commonly used the library in ways indirectly related to health (e.g. learning English) than direct health-related services. Staff reported comfort interacting with immigrant patrons, but lacked consensus on navigating language barriers and determining community needs. Research limitations/implications: This qualitative study provides insights from a specific geographic and cultural setting. It focused on immigrants using the library and may have excluded vulnerable populations of immigrants who encounter barriers to using the library. Future research and practice should focus on how public libraries can better meet the health information needs of immigrant populations, including navigating controversial social and political topics, as well as emerging health-related information during a pandemic. Originality/value: Public health practitioners often overlook public libraries as community collaborators. This research identifies that while there is important and essential work happening in public libraries to improve immigrant health, more can be done, especially in collaboration with public health professionals. © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.