45 The hifa lis project: exploring the role of libraries in times of crisis

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Abstract

Objectives

HIFA (Healthcare Information for all – http://www.hifa.org/) is a global health movement working in collaboration with more than 300 other health and development organisations worldwide, to ensure every person has access to the information they need to protect their own health and the health of others. There are more than 17,000 HIFA members, including health workers, librarians, publishers, researchers, and policymakers.

Objectives

In March 2017, HIFA joined forces with Public Health England and Evidence Aid to launch a project on the role of Library and Information Services (LIS) in times of crisis. The aim was to leverage the individual and collective HIFA membership to support communication, understanding and advocacy for library and information services as they relate to global public health and evidence-informed decision making by health professionals, citizens, and policymakers. The project’s focus is global health, population health, and preparedness for and response to emergency situations.

Method

To help achieve this, an evidence briefing and thematic discussions were carried out, and this poster summarises the findings from these outputs.

Method

The literature review generated a preliminary evidence briefing (EB), which focused on emergencies and disasters, both natural and man-made (tsunamis, storms, floods, earthquakes, off-shore oil drilling, wars, civil unrest, terrorism, disease outbreaks, etc.).

Method

To build on the EB, a thematic discussion took place on the HIFA Forum, between 17th July and 18th August 2017. Having looked at the published evidence, the purpose of the discussion was to find out more about librarian activity in areas of crisis and disaster.

Method

In October 2017, a second thematic discussion was held, bringing together humanitarians and library and information professionals, looking at ways to improve the quality, usefulness, availability and use of healthcare information for humanitarian action.

Results

Sixty-eight papers were included in the EB, and organised into five categories: access to information; knowledge management; existing programmes/resources; roles of libraries, librarians, and knowledge brokers; and social media. The findings showed that library and information centres have a very important role to play in terms of providing support during, and after disasters. They provide a safe place for rescued citizens, and also support disaster teams, providing them with the best evidence to inform decision-making, and acting as knowledge brokers to ensure relevant knowledge and information is shared effectively. Libraries can demonstrate their position as a primary and valuable source of trustworthy information and support, by providing quick and easy access to those looking for reliable information in times of crisis.

Conclusions

The thematic discussions concurred with the evidence in the briefing, demonstrating that libraries and librarians have a very important role to play in terms of providing support during, and after disasters.

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