« Back to Health

Salud To Your Health

Arlington (VA) Public Library
Go to Website

Problem Statement

Almost 1/5 of Arlington residents are Hispanic, a 50% increase from 1990. In October 2009 25% of elementary and middle school and 30% of high school students were Spanish speaking. Over 70% of Virginia Hospital Center pediatric clinic visits are from Hispanic families. Many of these families use the Internet, but awareness of bilingual health information online is not widespread. By increasing awareness of authoritative consumer resources and providing free access through libraries, the Arlington Library and the library of the Virginia Hospital Center hope to take a first step in establishing community-based electronic health information resource centers. The public library has broad communication with residents in facilities and online but does not have a health specialist. Collaboration with the medical librarian at a nonprofit local hospital should prove advantageous.


The public library and hospital successfully partnered to get a $5943 grant offered by the National Library of Medicine to improve access to electronic health information for Arlington’s Hispanic population. Library staffs from the two entities collaborated on creating ¡Salud!, a bilingual online portal for researching health topics (diseases, drugs, lab tests, procedures), finding providers (doctors, clinics, insurance) or emailing questions to a health librarian. The grant also paid for public access computers at the hospital and one branch library and bilingual bookmarks and sub money to free up a bilingual librarian to promote the portal to Spanish-speaking groups.


The one-year grant period has not ended. Evaluation will be based on numbers of visits to the online portal, number and type of emails to the health librarian; uses of the PCs for health-related research and one-on-one interviews with portal users. The portal has been created, bilingual bookmarks designed and ready for printing, and PCs in place. Next step is outreach to the targeted community by a bilingual public librarian.