New York State Library

Division of Library Development

Regents Advisory Council on Libraries

The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award 2004

Rochester Regional Library Council


1. a) Briefly describe your library or library consortium (system) and the community it serves. Provide information about size, budget, type, users.

The Rochester Regional Library Council is a multi-type library network serving 450 libraries and library systems in the five-county Rochester region - Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne and Wyoming counties. Our members include:

The RRLC has a total operating budget of $1.6 million. Sources of revenue are: State Aid: 21%; Categorical State Grants and Competitive Grants: 28%; Member Dues and Interest Income: 3%; Fees for Service: 48%.

From our mission statement:

.RRLC provides programs and services that enhance member library cooperation, service delivery and resource sharing. RRLC serves as a forum for the unified representation of library interests and helps members achieve together what could not be achieved separately.

The unique role of RRLC is that it is the entity through which its members can coordinate and relate their diverse activities to create a more effective service network to improve information access for the people of the Rochester region and beyond.

1. b) Briefly describe your project/achievement.

RRLC has brought together librarians of all types -- but especially medical, public, and school librarians -- to create a Community and Library Information Collaboration on Health -- CLIC-on-Health. To this mix of libraries and librarians, we brought representatives of local health care agencies.

CLIC-on-Health provides two main services, with plans for additional services in the future.

Web site: CLIC-on-Health provides a "one-stop shopping" web site for quality consumer health information. Users do a "Google-type" search to find local health agency information and full text articles from the National Library of Medicine. Over 420 local health agencies and support groups have extensive information on our web site, which they can update at any time, using a simple text-editing form.

Training: Part of CLIC-on-Health also is training -- training public librarians, health agency staff, school nurses, and selected seniors (under a special National Network of Libraries of Medicine grant) on how to find quality health information on CLIC-on-Health.

We have succeeded in getting nearly $150,000 in grant funding to develop and support this project. Besides web site creation and training, grants include funds for computers and technical help for partnering senior centers, and outreach efforts to the Spanish community through their local public library.

2. How did you identify the user need(s) for your project?

Librarians in the greater Rochester area have long recognized the need for consumer health information and its relationship to health status. Periodic, independent efforts at providing consumer health information have been ongoing in Rochester for almost a decade. Under the leadership of the Rochester Regional Library Council, the area's medical, public, and school librarians began working together three years ago to enhance the public's ability to get quality information through their local libraries. The project features easily accessible, reliable, high-quality, community-based consumer health resources.

We believe that the role of the librarian is to help the public find quality information. According to Dr. Donald Lindberg, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are four good reasons that libraries, both medical and public, are the natural source to provide this crucial medical information:

  1. Libraries are trusted sources of information.
  2. Librarians are trained to provide more than one source of information.
  3. Librarians are trained to display origins and biases of information.
  4. Interaction with librarians can enhance understanding of health and medical issues.

In early 2002, RRLC held a public forum on consumer health information which included almost 80 representatives from local health agencies, plus 20 area librarians. They confirmed the need for quality health information that would also provide a link to local agencies.

We also conducted extensive market research in preparation for developing regionally-relevant web content, based on the experience of other successful consumer health web sites and a telephone survey of 300 randomly selected households in Monroe County. Our market research showed that there was a need for online access to local health agency information.

  Internet use now Internet use future Library use now Library use future
Obtain information on staying healthy 37% 57% 3% 13%
Learn about a specific disease/condition 58% 63% 3% 12%
Get a definition of a medical term 62% 70% 4% 9%
Browsing a calendar of local health-related events 13% 28% 0% 8%
Finding local support groups 20% 36% 0% 5%

We also knew that National studies show that people searching the Internet are looking for medical information 55% of the time and that number is growing. (

As we developed CLIC-on-Health, we continually worked with both librarians and health care and health agency professionals to ensure that the information we were providing on our web site and in our training sessions matched their needs. We do this continuously through a Steering Committee (see attached list) that meets monthly, through feedback forms from our training sessions, and through our work with our health agency partners.

3. What did your library or library consortium (system) do to respond to that (those) need(s)? What challenges were met?

In order to meet the stated needs, RRLC sought funding from several sources, beginning with a Planning Grant from the National Network/Libraries of Medicine. Since that first Planning Grant in 2001, we have received additional funding from the NN/LM (2 grants) and from an LSTA grant through the New York State Library.

Participating libraries and library systems have given extensively of their time and expertise. In particular, CLIC-on-Health credits much of its success to the leadership of the two major medical libraries in the region: The Edward G. Miner Library at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Stabbins Wellness Center at the Rochester General Hospital. Also central to the success has been the involvement of the Rochester City School District School Library System and the Henrietta Public Library. Staff at these libraries/systems have been extensively involved in planning and grant writing.

Below is a summary by grant source of how we have proceeded and what we have accomplished.

Planning Grant for CLIC-on-Health; Year: 2001-2002; Funder: National Library of Medicine; Amount: $5,000

NLM Implementation Grant for CLIC-on-Health; Year: 2002-2004; Funder: National Library of Medicine; Amount: $50,000

CLIC-on-Health; Year: 2002-2003; Funder: Institute for Museum and Libraries Studies through NYS Library; Amount: 49,863

CLIC and the City: Year: 2003-2004; Funder: National Library of Medicine; Amount: $40,000


We have learned that there are many health related initiatives in the community (unrelated to libraries), but groups are not coordinating efforts. Efforts are fragmented and there is some duplication. These initiatives provide some competition from organizations that are much more visible -- and better funded -- than libraries.

We have learned that there is a need to become more integrated into and familiar with the nonprofit community: health agencies, senior centers, and community groups.

We have learned much more about the populations we want to serve. There are two distinct groups:

  1. middle class, educated, young to early seniors -- these are the Internet users, we can target for our web site
  2. inner-city and rural poor, minorities, older seniors, low literacy -- these people are not generally computer users, we can target them for awareness of where to go for health information, emphasizing libraries

Getting sustainable funding is our next challenge. We are developing a business plan. The Plan includes a vision of where we hope to be in the future. We will take the Plan to potential funders beginning this summer.

4. What impact did this project have on your users and/or your community? Supply quantifiable data if appropriate.

Since the debut of the CLIC-on-Health web site, there has been an average of 6,738 page views per month.

There are 420 health agencies listed, whose information data was taken from the now out-of-publication Monroe County Human Services Directory. A goal of CLIC-on-Health is to have current information for health agencies available online. Progress is being made. Since November 2003, 33% of agencies have updated their listing. Many of these agencies are very small and rely on volunteer help. RRLC has assisted 50 of these agencies to update their listings and would like to continue to be able to offer this service until all agencies are up to date. We also are committed to teaching these agencies how to update their own data.

We have done extensive training of library staff, health workers, and some seniors.

Evaluations of our training show we are on target.

We have had good publicity in the local media, including a segment on the local television channel.

We are constantly reaching out to new potential partners -- and they are impressed with what we have done. For example, as a result of CLIC-on-Health, RRLC has become a partner in the local 2-1-1 initiative ("help" line for human services). Some of these have resulted from our participation in local health fairs.

We are in the process of partnering with a PBS affiliate to become the web site for an exciting new national program they are offering next season.

Go to the CLIC-on-Health web page. | Back to the Shubert Awards page.

* Go to New York State Library home page