School librarians play a vital role in developing the information literacy skills of children and young people. These skills support them in their studies, but also in day-to-day life. Information literacy enables children to access and appraise a range of information resources throughout their lives, including developing health literacy skills.
With an ageing population, more people will be living longer with complex health needs. We therefore need to support young people to make health decisions in the future.
So what is health literacy?
Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, appraise and use health information to make health-related decisions. In the UK, we know from work by Gill Rowlands that 43% adults struggle with text-based health information; rising to 61% if the health information includes numbers as well as text.
School librarians help pupils to develop the information literacy skills that enable them to be more health literate in their lives.
What is the local impact?
October is international Health Literacy Month. This year, in the NHS we are launching borough-level data on health literacy levels. This is analysis provided by Gill Rowlands and academic colleagues at the University of Southampton. We hope that this dataset will enable you to raise the profile of the issue locally.
What role are school librarians playing?
Using health-related examples, such as reviewing the content of a paracetamol leaflet or accessing reliable health information online, applies information literacy to a health context. The health literacy toolkit includes a range of resources and guidance on techniques, which help you to assess the extent to which you can integrate health literacy into existing work programmes.
How can I use Health Literacy Month?
Health Literacy Month provides an opportunity to review your own health literacy awareness and have conversations with colleagues about health literacy.