Take a look at these articles in Publisher's Weekly's March 15, 2006 edition: a brief article about "Lib-Dating" and one about the "Book Bar." Libraries have many challenges in these days of the internet, one is to get young people to leave the comfort of their homes and computers and actually enter the library, perhaps to take out a book or go to a program. Another problem, which predates computers, is what to do with books that are out-of-date, no longer current, take up space that is needed for new books or which are just plain worn out? Hence the book bar and the library date.
Here's another interesting idea from Glasgow's public libraries: Healthy Reading. Doctors and libraries have a joint program where a doctor can "prescribe" a book for a patient to check out from the library to find out more about common mental health conditions such as stress, alcoholism or other addiction, eating disorders and so on. The library website says:
"How the Healthy Reading Scheme works
If your doctor has decided that you suffer from stress or have other emotional problems, they might prescribe medication or refer you to another health professional. This scheme gives your GP another option. If your doctor decides that a book may be helpful for you, they will give you a prescription for the book that they think is most likely to help. You can then take your prescription to your nearest library where you can borrow the book."
Local physicians have picked a list of books with current health information. The service is confidential of course. All transactions between librarians and patrons are never divulged to anyone, just as lawyers, priests and doctors have professional confidentiality with their patients, clients etc.
see the NJ Statutes Annotated for that law:
N.J.S.A.18A:73-43.2. Confidentiality of library users' records
Library records which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances:
a. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library;b. Disclosure is requested by the user; orc. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpena issued by a court or court order.
L.1985, c. 172, § 2.
At BHPL, we do not have the "Healthy Reading" program like the Scottish program, but at the Reference Desk we do help many patrons find information on their health concerns. We use our reference book collection, the circulating collection and the internet. Our favorite internet medical site is http://medlineplus.gov/ which is run by the National Institutes of Health in conjunction with the National Library of Medicine.