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Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1998

Welcome to the second issue of  CHRC News.  In this issue you will find new information 
on how to contact us, the CHRC training schedule, a CHRC FAQ and the first profile in a 
new series about Massachusetts libraries which provide consumer health information.


The CHRC is coming to a site near you.  Find 
out more about CHRC’s services and about 
health reference information at one of the 
following classes. 

? Oct. 15.  9:30am-12:30pm.  Metrowest 
RLS, 135 Beaver St., Waltham.
? Oct. 26.  9:30am-12:30pm.  Boston 
Public Library Copley Sq., Boston.  Rm. 
CO5&6 (617-536-5400)
? Oct. 28.  9:30am-12:30pm.  Central 
Mass. RLS, 8 Flagg Rd., Shrewsbury.
? Nov. 10.  10:00am-1:00pm.  Mercy 
Hospital, DeLesio Conference Center, 
Medical Staff Conference Rm., 271 
Carew St., Springfield (413-748-9050) 
? Dec. 9.  10:00am-1:00pm.  Bridgewater 
State College, Moakley Center, 
Bridgewater. (508-279-6139)
? Dec. 11.  10.00am-1.00pm.  Memorial 
Hall Library, Elm Square, Andover.

Learn about the librarian’s role in providing 
consumer health information; rediscover basic 
consumer health resources in print and on the 
internet; share tips and techniques for the 
health reference interview; discuss evaluation 
and selection of resources; and find out what 
the CHRC, your regional reference center and 
BPL can do for you.

No pre-registration is required and all 
workshops are free to staff from regional 
member libraries. Attendees may receive three 
Professional Development points for 

Directions to the workshops will be posted on 
the MLIN web site at least two weeks prior to 
the date of the workshop:

If you have questions about the workshops 
contact: Marlene Heroux at the MBLC at:


Please note our new email address: 

Sorry, Wrong Number!
 If you are having difficulty getting through on 
the toll free number, 1- 877-MEDI REF, check 
with your switchboard operator to see whether 
they have 877 numbers programmed into the 
switchboard.  Since the 877 and 888 numbers 
are fairly new toll free numbers, some  
organizations haven’t yet done the necessary 
programming.  If you cannot get through, call 
617-726-8600 and ask for the Reference Desk.



The new CHRC web page includes 
information about CHRC services, links to 
MLIN and our newsletter, CHRC News. 
However, what we hope you will find most 
useful is the Internet Resources section 
which  links to many consumer health internet 
resources chosen for their authority and 

Here is a quick tour of that section which 
contains links to sites on the following topics:
? Choosing Health Care Providers: includes 
the American Board of Medical 
Specialties; the American Medical 
Association Physician Select service, 
which provides information on virtually all 
licensed physicians in the U.S., 
Massachusetts Medical Society’s Physician 
Referral Service and the Massachusetts 
Board of Registration in Medicine database 
of physician profiles.
? Diseases, Disorders & General Health 
Information: Major Resources - Thirteen 
sites that cover a range of medical 
information, including the American 
Medical Association, NOAH, Dr. Koop’s 
Community, and Healthfinder from the 
U.S. government.  A couple of our 
favorites are the National Health 
Information Center (http://nhic-
nt.health.org/) -- check out the Health 
Information Resource Database -- and 
(http://www.medicinenet.com/) with 
information on diseases and disorders, 
written by board certified specialists.
? Diseases, Disorders & General Health 
Information:  Specific Resources: 
Resources by topic, including AIDS, 
Alzheimer’s Disease, Alternative 
Medicine, Arthritis, Cancer, Children’s 
Health, Women’s Health, Disability and 
Rehabilitation, Dental Health, Drug 
Information, Diabetes, Genetics and Rare 
Disorders, Heart Disease, Mental Health, 
and Nutrition.
? HealthNews: a number of sites for 
checking news reports including the 
excellent Biomedicine and Health in the 
News at 
? Massachusetts Info: Massachusetts health 
information sites - help us expand this one.  
See “Wanted: Massachusetts Health 
Organizations” below.  
? Medical Journals: Another favorite,  
WebMedLit (http://www.webmedlit.com/) 
tracks the literature of 22 top medical 
journals concerned with clinical topics. 
Each topic page from WebMedLit also 
links to relevant news stories from PR 
? MEDLINE: Free Medline from the 
National Library of Medicine.  Choose 
either the PubMed or Internet Grateful 
Med interface - or save time, and contact 
us for a quick search of the medical 
? Non-English Language & Health Literacy 
Resources:  Here you will find 
predominantly Spanish language resources 
from a variety of organizations.  
? Organizations, Support Groups and Toll 
Free Numbers: Includes links to national 
specialty societies such as the American 
College of Cardiology and the American 
Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, many 
of which make their patient education 
materials available from their web sites. 
? For Librarians:  Some online collection 
development tools include core 
bibliographies for consumer health from 
HealthNet in Connecticut and the 
Consumer & Patient Health Information 
Section (CAPHIS) of the Medical Library 

If you have comments or suggestions for the 
CHRC web page please tell us.
Email: treadwellqanda@partners.org
Fax:    617-726-6784
Phone: 1-877-MEDI REF


Are you a librarian at a Massachusetts health 
organization?  Do you have a web site?  If you 
answered “Yes!’ to both these questions we 
want to hear from you!  

We want to develop the Massachusetts 
Information section of the CHRC home page 
to include the web sites of as many 
Massachusetts health organizations as 
possible.  Currently this section includes:

? AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts 
? Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts 
? Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of 
Registration in Medicine 
? Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
Executive Office of Health & Human 
? Massachusetts Association of HMO's 
? Massachusetts Dental Society 
? Massachusetts Department of Public 
? Massachusetts Health Promotion 
? Massachusetts Health Web 
? Massachusetts Hospital and Health 
? Massachusetts Medical Society 
? Massachusetts Prevention Centers

If you want to be added to this list or if you 
want to recommend a Massachusetts web site, 
please send the web site address to:
Email: treadwellqanda@partners.org
Fax:    617-726-6784
Phone: 1-877-MEDI REF

This is the first in a new series of profiles of  
libraries throughout Massachusetts which 
provide consumer health information. 
Jeanette Hudson, librarian at the 
Community Health Library at UMass 
Memorial Health Care in Worcester, 
describes her model of service with its focus 
on serving individuals.  The Community 
Health Library is a member of the Central 
Massachusetts Regional Library System.

The Community Health Library

What could be more individual than one’s 
health?  Since 1993, the Community Health 
Library at UMass Memorial Health Care in 
Worcester has responded to the individual 
health concerns of its patrons. While our 
primary mission is to serve patients and 
families at UMass Memorial, we are also open 
to the public in the greater Worcester area.

The Library Collection

The library holds more than 1500 books, 200 
videotapes and 100 audiotapes.  Selection 
decisions are based on direct response to the 
approximately 150 reference queries received 
each month.  We record the subject of each 
reference query and ask patrons to specify 
their interests and concerns on their 
registration forms.  The results are collated, 
checked against the library holdings and 
purchases are made according to need areas 
not addressed by the current collection.   It is 
notable that we rarely receive requests for 
“typical” patient education materials 
(overviews, fact sheets, brochures, etc.) 

The dynamic nature of health information 
requires frequent evaluation for currency. 
Items older than three years  are targeted for 
weeding, but new research may change 
medical practices more frequently.  Staff 
regularly consults medical news to ensure that 
the collection reflects current practices.  

Reference Services

Roughly half of reference requests are made 
by telephone and information is mailed to the 
patron.  In addition to our print reference 
collection, our resources include OVID 
databases with 45 titles in full text, OCLC 
FirstSearch, IAC Health Reference Center 
(HRC) provided courtesy of MLIN, a file of 
about 200 reliable health information web 
sites, and a subscription to the NORD 
(National Organization for Rare Disorders) 

Our collection of health newsletters, journals 
and magazines supports the IAC HRC index.  
In general, we subscribe to publications which 
are indexed on HRC but not available in full 

Patron Privacy and the Need for Easy Access

Not everyone feels comfortable discussing 
one’s bowels with a stranger.  In order to make 
materials accessible to the independent 
researcher, the library collection has just been 
converted from an in-house classification 
system to LC.  We take liberties with our 
subject headings and add headings which 
match terms used by our patrons.  Besides 
facilitating patron independence,  this will 
position our library for networking 
opportunities with other libraries.  
Most of our internet-able patrons report 
frustration in trying to locate specific 
information on web sites. In response, we have 
designed an in-house Community Health 
Library home page which features links to 
actual documents and articles on diseases and 

The Future of Community Health Information

As health care consumers, we are increasingly 
called upon to make decisions about our own 
health.  Reliable health information is the best 
possible resource available to us.  The 
Community Health Library strives to provide 
health information which addresses the unique 
concerns of individuals. 
Jeanette Hudson,  Community Health Library, 
UMass Memorial Health Care, 119 Belmont 
Street, Worcester, MA 01605.
Library Hours:
 Mon.- Wed.  10:00am - 4:00pm
 Thursday      10:00am - 6:00pm
 Friday           10:00am - 4:00pm

Tel:  508-793-6104  Fax: 508-793-6527 


“Deciphering Medspeak”-- A new brochure 
for consumers offering relief from chronic 
misunderstandings, has been produced by the 
Medical Library Association ( MLA).  Its aim 
is to help people understand “medspeak”, the 
specialized language of health care 
professionals.   Included are common medical 
terms and abbreviations -- so “what difference 
does it make if your doctor’s handwriting isn’t 
legible.  It might mean the difference between 
ap and AP!” (ap = ante prandium, before 
dinner; AP = ante-partum, before childbirth.)

The brochure is available in quantities of 50 
for $10.00. Send requests via e-mail to Tomi 
Gunn (mlams@mlahq.org) or by regular mail 

 Tomi Gunn
 Medical Library Association
 6 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 300
 Chicago, IL 60602-4805
 Tel: 312-419-9094; fax: 312-419-8950

The entire brochure can be previewed in a 
series of panel-by-panel images on the MLA 
home page:
http://www.mlanet.org.  An html version will 
be available soon.


Have you ever wanted to find reviews of 
consumer health books without flipping 
through numerous issues of Library Journal or 
similar publications?  With your access to the 
InfoTrac SearchBank databases you can use a 
variety of databases, including Health 
Reference Center database and General 
Reference Center (Magazine Index) to search 
for book reviews.  We use General Reference 
Center because it has more reviews than 
Health Reference Center.

To find  reviews of books about prostate 
? Select the General Reference Center 
database and choose the Power Trac 
advanced search.  
? Pull down the index menus and select Title 
(ti) then type “book reviews” in the search 
? Now, type “prostate cancer” in the search 
? Combine the two as shown below.  

This search can be further limited by using the 
date index or specifying a particular journal 
using the journal index.  You can also search 
for particular titles or subjects.

Be careful with Author searches as Infotrac 
searches for the author of the book review and 
NOT the author of the book.


You can also find reviews of videos by 
searching for “video reviews” in the title.



Here are answers to some of the most 
common questions we have received since 
the CHRC opened. Please feel free to 
contact us if you have other questions about 
the CHRC.

Q.  Can members of the public use  the 
CHRC or contact the CHRC by 
A.  The CHRC is a mediated reference 
service, meaning that we answer questions 
from librarians only.  Contact us on behalf 
of your users, but please do not refer your 
users to us directly.  If a member of the 
public does contact us directly we will refer 
them back to their local library or to Boston 
Public Library.

Q.  When should I contact the CHRC?
A.   You should contact us when you, the 
librarian, have determined that your user’s 
question cannot be answered by local or 
regional resources.  Local and regional 
resources may include your Regional 
Reference Center and Boston Public Library.

Q.   Is document delivery a CHRC 
A.   The CHRC is a reference service so we 
do not provide document delivery.  
However, you may request copies of journal 
articles through Boston Public Library’s 
Journal Document Delivery service.  Journal 
articles requested through BPL are provided 
free of charge.

Q.  If I contact the CHRC with a question 
what kind of response should I expect?
A.  You should expect an initial response 
within 24 business hours.  After that it 
depends on the question-- 
We could:
? find a journal article or pages from a 
textbook that answers the question.  If we 
do, we will fax (or mail, if preferred) the 
article or pages to you.
? do a quick literature search and send you 
a list of citations or  a list of citations 
with abstracts.
? refer you to another resource, such as an 
organization or association.
? identify a web site that answers the 
question and give you the address.

We will also tell you where we found the 
information, because librarians always want 
to know “how did you find it?”

Q.   What kind of questions does the 
CHRC answer?
A.   The CHRC answers any questions  
concerned with consumer health.  They may 
include information on drug interactions, 
surgical procedures, treatment and therapies, 
diseases and disorders.

Q.   Are there any queries that should not 
be referred to CHRC?
A.  Queries that require information or 
answers for school reports or queries that are 
not health related should not be referred to 


CHRC Contact Information

Tel: 1-877-MEDI-REF (1-877-633-4733)
 or    617-726-8600

Fax: 617-726-6784

or treadwellqanda@partners.org

Consumer Health Reference Center
Treadwell Library 
Bartlett Hall Extension 1 
Massachusetts General Hospital 
Boston, MA 02114.