National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region Incorporates AHRQ Resources in Training Librarians

Patient Safety
April 2013

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) uses a variety of AHRQ resources in classes taught to librarians in its South Central Region, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

Karen J. Vargas, MSLS, Outreach and Evaluation Coordinator for the NNLM South Central Region, teaches a number of classes, including "Healthy Aging at Your Library: Connecting Older Adults to Health Information." The class is designed to help librarians learn to assist their older patrons in finding health information. It trains librarians in techniques for teaching older adults to use computers and to find health information on the Internet and helps them learn what makes a Web site senior-friendly, plan library programs on senior health topics, and learn about recommended health Web sites for older adults.

Vargas says, "I'm always excited to show AHRQ's 'Questions Are the Answer' Question Builder during the Healthy Aging class. For seniors, it can be especially difficult to question their doctor, so the Question Builder is a really good tool to use."

The Healthy Aging course objectives include the following:

  • Learn why it is important to better assist older patrons.
  • Be able to evaluate health information resources based on usability issues that affect older adults.
  • Learn and practice techniques for teaching older adults to look for health information on the Internet.
  • Be able to research health information for older adults on online resources from the National Institutes of Health and other recommended Web sites.

Vargas incorporates AHRQ consumer materials into other classes that she teaches, such as "Beyond an Apple a Day: Providing Health Information at Your Library" and "Prescription for Success: Consumer Health on the Web." She says, "I use AHRQ examples when I demonstrate MedlinePlus™, which I do every time I teach. I tell my class, 'You know about using resources from the Mayo Clinic or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but how many of you think to go to AHRQ for information?' AHRQ has some really great consumer health information, and you might not think to go there if MedlinePlus didn't link to it."

Another class Vargas teaches is "American Indian Health Information Resources in Oklahoma," in which she incorporates AHRQ's Program Brief, "AHRQ Research and Other Activities Relevant to American Indians and Alaska Natives." This brief provides a summary, by topic, of ongoing and recently completed AHRQ activities that specifically address the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Upon successful completion of the classes, each participant receives 4 hours of continuing education credit awarded by the Medical Library Association.

Vargas concludes, "AHRQ constantly impresses me with the great materials it produces."

More about Vargas' class, "Healthy Aging at Your Library: Connecting Older Adults to Health Information," is available at:

The NNLM ( program is funded and coordinated by the National Library of Medicine ( and carried out through a nationwide network of health science libraries and information centers.

More information about AHRQ's "Questions Are the Answer" Question Builder is available at:

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Questions Are the Answer Public Service Campaign
Topics(s): Consumer Health, Aging
Geographic Location: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Implementer: National Network of Libraries of Medicine
Date: 04/01/2013

AHRQ Research and Other Activities Relevant to American Indians and Alaska Natives: Program Brief. March 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Page last reviewed April 2013