The San Diego Circuit libraries – which is composed of six prominent local public and academic libraries – announced today the consortium has been awarded a Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) grant to help counteract health misinformation in the San Diego region.
According to the Surgeon General, “misinformation is information that is false, inaccurate or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time.” Health misinformation negatively impacts our informed health awareness, decision-making and adherence to public health measures. Through this grant, the San Diego Circuit libraries will create an outreach toolkit to help library workers mitigate health misinformation by proactively promoting health information literacy.
“The UC San Diego Library is spearheading this effort on behalf of the San Diego Circuit libraries to address the public health crisis caused by health misinformation during the pandemic and in general,” said Audrey Geisel University Librarian and project lead Erik Mitchell at UC San Diego. “Libraries in our region can support the County’s campaign to counteract health misinformation through information literacy support and resource access, which is exactly what this project aims to accomplish.”
San Diego County initiatives to counter health misinformation are many and compiled on San Diego County Board Chair Nathan Fletcher’s website. As board chair, Fletcher led the effort to make San Diego County the first city or county government in the country to declare health misinformation a public health crisis.
The San Diego Circuit, which consists of two public libraries (San Diego County Library and San Diego Public Library) and four academic libraries (CSU San Marcos University Library, San Diego State University Library, UC San Diego Library and University of San Diego Libraries, including the Helen K. and James S. Copley Library and the Katherine M. and George M. Pardee Jr. Legal Research Center), applied for the funding in June 2022. In August 2022, the group received notification that the project, “Building resilience to health misinformation in San Diego County, California, communities: An online outreach toolkit for library workers,” was selected for the $25,000 grant.
The toolkit will provide online micro-learning content for various digital communications channels in an effort to raise awareness of health misinformation. An essential outreach component is promoting National Library of Medicine resources such as MedlinePlus, PubMed and ClinicalTrials.gov, to help community members find reliable consumer health and scientific sources.
“Since health misinformation spreads quickly on the internet, the focus is on online outreach to raise awareness of health misinformation and teach techniques for evaluating health claims, finding reliable sources and responding to misinformation ethically and responsibly,” said Jeffery Loo, project manager and clinical librarian at UC San Diego Library. “We will encourage the adoption of the toolkit among library workers locally and nationally and provide guidance on best practices for launching an online promotional campaign.”
The outreach materials will be multilingual and promote awareness of health misinformation risks and teach information management skills. The UC San Diego Library is currently leading the process of creating the toolkit and plans to share the materials with library workers in San Diego County first, then with our neighbors in Imperial County and then nationally in early 2023.
The NNLM grant builds on the work the consortium has been doing over the past year to address health misinformation. “As trusted partners of our community, our library is committed to helping the residents of San Diego County in many ways, including providing access to credible information,” said San Diego County Library Director Migell Acosta.
Both the San Diego County Library (SDCL) and the San Diego Public Library (SDPL) have been active throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing essential services, including testing locations, Wi-Fi access and computer equipment. San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones observed how important the library’s 36 locations are to building and sustaining San Diego’s many communities.
“This collaboration is just one of the many ways in which the Circuit partnership supports our campus and the San Diego community,” said Theresa Byrd, dean of libraries at the University of San Diego. San Diego State University Library Dean Scott Walter agreed, noting that SDSU “collaborates with agencies and organizations across the Greater San Diego area to promote access to information and the development of healthy communities.”
“We recognize that our students are also users of our public libraries and will contribute to our region as they enter the workforce and their careers develop. The collective work libraries do is focused on helping our current and future students and neighbors be successful in both their academic and work lives,” said CSU San Marcos Library Dean Jennifer Fabbi.
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Assistant Dean and Director of the University of San Diego Legal Research Center Judith Lihosit. “Each member library of Circuit brings a valuable and unique perspective and I am excited to see our libraries building on our long-standing partnership.”
This work contributes to UC San Diego’s collective impact model, which seeks to foster positive outcomes through widespread collaboration. Members of the San Diego Health Information Partnership, a collaborative team of library workers led by San Diego Circuit, are active partners contributing to the project. For more information, visit libguides.sdsu.edu/health/about.
This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM013725 with the University of Washington.