health library

ALISON CLEMENT, librarian for the Marshall Community Health Library, shows the plans for the new library location at 3581 Palmer Drive in Palmer Drive in Cameron Park. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene


Community health library on the move

By From page B2 | January 14, 2013

The Marshall Community Health Library is moving out — leaving its current location in the Wilkinson-Hupcey Building on Upper Main Street in Placerville and relocating to 3581 Palmer Drive in Cameron Park.

People in Placerville and other parts of the county won’t be left without a reliable source of health information.

“In addition to being a health library, we are also a public library, ” said Alison Clement, librarian for the health library.

“We are part of the county library system, so if anyone in the county, including South Lake Tahoe, needs a book or a DVD from the catalog we share with the county library, we can send it through the inter-library system and they can pick it up at their branch.”

The Marshall Community Health Library has been around for about 10 years, growing out of its small location across the street from Town Hall to the larger one in the Wilkinson-Hupcey Building.

Now Marshall Medical wants to have more of a presence in the western end of the county and has plans for additional services in the current library space in Placerville.

Clement has been the librarian at the health library for six years and she said it’s not just books about disease.

The library is a free community resource for books, DVDs, CDs and research about a wide-range of health-related topics: mental health; cancer; pregnancy; alternative therapies; caregiving; death and loss; Alzheimer’s and dementia; nutrition and eating disorders, special diets and disease information.

There are books for children on health and social issues, public computers and free research service. There are books and resource materials in Spanish and hundreds of medical journals for research.

Clement has the only paid position and she has 10 trained volunteers to do medical research and help guests find the materials they need. The library is entirely funded with grants from the Marshall Foundation, the El Dorado Community Foundation and others.

“We don’t have much of a budget because we want to keep costs down,” said Clement. “We believe that health information should be free to everyone.”

Welcoming, cozy and non-threatening are words Clement uses to describe the library.

“When people come here, often it’s because they’ve just been diagnosed or had a family member diagnosed and they are stressed. All of our volunteers are well-trained in research and confidentiality — we get a lot of questions here and some of them are very delicate,” Clement said.

Helping people formulate good questions to ask their physicians is one of the primary purposes of the library.

“We don’t give medical advice and we are very careful about the information we provide with our research, using only trusted sites. Every question I get, I learn something,” said Clement, who often does medical research for Marshall’s doctors and staff.

“Our most popular book and DVD right now is ‘Forks Over Knives,’ about eliminating animal protein from your diet and how animals raised for meat are treated,” said Clement.

CDs of guided imagery are also very popular, particularly ones promoting stress reduction and healing after surgery. Clement keeps a wish list of requested books and topics to order from when grant funds are available.

“We always have soft music playing and try to make sure that the information people want is in a format that works for them,” said Clement. “We offer CDs, DVDs or even computer printouts because sometimes people are too stressed to read a whole book.”

The health library has been temporarily closed since Nov.15 in order to prepare for the move.

“We did some mega-weeding out,” said Clement, “Having a book sale, sending some books to Snowline Hospice and discarding others.Thank goodness we don’t have to pack the books. The movers will come with rolling bookcases and they will move them. They’ve moved medical records before, so I have confidence in them.”

According to Clement, Marshall refurbished the perfect building for the health library.

“It even looks, with the columns outside, like a library. They were very responsive to what we need, even to taking down walls so that the library would be open, spacious and welcoming.”

In the new location, the kid’s corner will have a play table and child accessible shelves,” so mothers can browse and the kids have something to do,” and the 55 plus corner with comfortable chairs and a table loaded with resource material for local services for older people will make the move as well.

“We will take the rest of January to get everything set up and ready and then we’ll open in the new location the first week in February,” said Clement.

A grand opening celebration will take place on March 21.

“I’m very pleased with what’s happening,” said Clement. “These are wonderful changes.”

Wendy Schultz

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