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ALA, Walgreens Launch Health Information Initiative

ORLANDO, Fla. — The American Library Association (ALA), based in Chicago, and Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens yesterday launched Be Well Informed @ your library, a national health information initiative geared toward the estimated 90 million American adults who have trouble comprehending and using and using health information. The program will combine the partners' community health resources to assist the more than 40 percent of consumers confused by the wealth of health care information available today.

"Good decisions depend on good information," noted ALA President Carla Hayden. "The Institute of Medicine health literacy report showed that people with poor understanding of health information were much more likely to be hospitalized and to visit emergency rooms. Be Well Informed @ your library will provide library users with accurate, timely, and balanced information from personal, trusted sources within their communities: pharmacists and librarians."

Be Well Informed @ your library will tackle such national health issues as Medicare drug discount cards, how to manage rising health care costs, new medications. While the program is aimed at all Americans, there will be a special emphasis on older Americans, who tend to have the most questions but the least access to the Internet.

The program will sponsor a series of health seminars led by Walgreen pharmacists and hosted by public libraries in 10 cities nationwide in the first year of the partnership, November 2004 through November 2005. Additionally, the seminar curriculum contents will be made available online to all 16,400 libraries and 4,400 Walgreens stores across the country.

"Health information on the Internet is sometimes unreliable, and most of all overwhelming," said Walgreens president Jeff Rein said. "Pharmacists are a...source of health information who don't require an appointment. We serve 4 million customers a day, one-fourth of them over 65. Combined with the number of library visits, there are millions of opportunities daily to have an impact on the health of the country."

Be Well Informed @ your library is part of the Campaign for America's Libraries, a multiyear advocacy and public awareness effort highlighting libraries as places of opportunity where information is affordable, available, and accessible to everyone.

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