Archive for the 'Resource sharing' Category

Educational Games from the National Library of Medicine

It is no secret that children love to play games. Games are fun and challenging and if they can incorporate educational concepts all the better! A 2016 report from Project Tomorrow, “From Print to Pixel,” examines trends in digital education. The report indicates an increase in the use of gaming, animations, and other digital content in K-12 education. Some of the findings related to gaming include:

  • The use of gaming by teachers has doubled – from 23% in 2010 to 48% in 2015.
  • 57% of school principals admit that lack of training for teachers is a top barrier to expanding digital learning.
  • Teachers in elementary grades are more likely to use game-based learning.
  • Over 60% of middle school students play games for self-directed learning outside the classroom.

If you are a school media specialist or children’s librarian, you may be looking for health and science games or animations that you can recommend to teachers and students. Well the National Library of Medicine (NLM) does have apps for that (and websites too)! With input from teachers and students, NLM has created several games and interactive sites to teach about chemistry, biology, and environmental health.

Base Chase: In this game, players help DeeNA jump on fast moving platforms to grab bases of DNA to build DNA strands for different animals. Base Chase can be incorporated into biology curriculum and is geared towards high school students. You can download the app for free from iTunes. A video tutorial is included.

Bohr Thru: In the style of the popular Candy Crush game, Bohr Thru players can collect protons, neutrons, and electrons to create the first 18 elements of the periodic table. This is a fun way to increase knowledge of chemical elements and structures. Bohr Thru can be included as part of chemistry curriculum and is geared towards high school students. You can download the app for free from iTunes.

Run4Green: In this Mario-style game, players can collect coins and complete environmentally friendly tasks while learning about important environmental health issues such as, renewable energy, green products, and greenhouse gas reduction. Run4Green is geared towards students in 5-8 grades. You can download the app for free from iTunes.

TOXInvaders: In this fast-paced game, players use a launcher to destroy toxic chemicals falling from the sky. Capturing “good chemicals” earns protective shield points. To move on the next level, players must take a brief quiz about the featured chemicals. TOXInvaders can be implemented into chemistry or environmental health curriculum, and is geared towards middle school students. You can download the app for free from iTunes. A tutorial is included.

ToxMystery: In this interactive learning site, players help Toxie the Cat find chemical hazards hidden throughout the house. Toxie will do a little dance whenever all the hazards are located, and along the way players learn how different substances in the environment affect human and pet health. There are also resource pages for teachers and parents. This site is available in both English and Spanish, and is geared towards ages 7-11 years old. It is freely available online at

Looking to pair these games with other NLM resources?

  • GeneEd: A genetics resource for students and teachers in grades 9-12. Includes lesson plans, animations, virtual and hands-on lab experiments, links to articles, and information on genetics careers.
  • Environmental Health Student Portal: A resource on environmental health for middle school students and teachers. Includes lesson plans, videos, animations, articles, games, and experiments. The information is focused on air pollution, chemicals, climate change, and water pollution.
  • ToxTown: Provides information on toxic chemicals in everyday locations, and how the environment impacts human health. This interactive site focuses on six specific environments: city, farm, town, US Border Regions, port, and US Southwest. Includes a resource page for teachers. Available in English and Spanish. For all ages.


Project Tomorrow. (2016). From Print to Pixel: The Role of Videos, Games, Animations and Simulations within K-12 education. Retrieved from

Dana Abbey, MLS is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region. She is based at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Library. You can reach her at


Zika Virus: What We Know, What We Don’t Know

The Zika virus has been around for decades, but only recently has gotten the attention of the U.S. with the rapid spread of the virus in the Western Hemisphere. The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection with mostly mild symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes – many will never even know they were infected. While mosquito seasons vary across the U.S., they often come with warming temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and with summer underway, many areas are now addressing ways to prepare for increased exposure to mosquitoes.

Spread of the Zika virus in the United States thus far has been limited to travel-associated cases, 591 as of May 25, 2016. While the majority of transmissions occur through the bite of an infected female Aedes species mosquito (only females bite humans), the virus can be transmitted from mother to fetus, through sexual contact with an infected male, and through blood transfusions. Transmission from mother to fetus is especially troublesome because it can cause microcephaly – babies are born with unusually small heads and brains that have not developed properly, and other birth defects.

Because sexual transmission seems tied to the Zika virus’s presence in infected males’ semen, proper condom use or not having sex are prevention measures. It’s not known if an infected woman can transmit the virus through sexual contact, or if it can be passed through vaginal fluids or salvia. For women trying to get pregnant, it’s now recommended waiting at least 8 weeks before trying to conceive if they or their partner live in or are returning from Zika infected areas.

While there have been no confirmed blood transfusion-transmission in the U.S., there have been several confirmed cases in Brazil.

Consumer/Patient Education Resources

If you know of a great resource, let me know and I will add it! Please feel free to share or reuse this post.

Dana Abbey, MLS[i]

[i] Funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012344 with the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.


Health Insurance Literacy

Health insurance is not only one of the costliest products a consumer will purchase, with an average health insurance marketplace price tag of $386 per month for an individual, it is also one of the most complex products to understand. Many people think they have the skills and knowledge to select and utilize their health insurance, but the evidence shows otherwise. Some examples:

  • A 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 37% of enrollees did not know the amount of their deductible, and 46% thought they were getting a subsidy though it was actually 85%.
  • Three out of 4 people in a 2013 survey by the American Institutes of Research stated confidence in their knowledge of health insurance, but only 20% could calculate the out-of-pocket cost for a visit with an in-network doctor.
  • A 2014 report from the Urban Institute noted that nearly 50% of adults reporting limited literacy and low numeracy skills, with income below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), had difficulty locating information to help them support their insurance plan choices.

This lack of literacy can prove detrimental to the consumer if they select a plan that doesn’t provided needed benefits or puts them at financial risk. The concept of “health insurance literacy” is fairly new, and while there is no official definition it has been described as “the degree to which individuals have the knowledge, ability, and confidence to find and evaluate information about health plans, select the best plan for their financial and health circumstances, and use the plan once enrolled.” Another key issue not addressed in this definition is the ability of the consumer to retain insurance coverage over time.

In 2014, the American Institutes of Research reported on their work to develop a measure of health insurance literacy. They created a conceptual model containing four domains: Knowledge, Information Seeking, Document Literacy, and Cognitive Skills. Each domain presents a number of facets that might prove difficult for a consumer to understand, but could also be used as a tool for those developing information for consumers, or those assisting consumers navigate the health insurance landscape.

Resources for those assisting consumers/patients

Resources for consumers/patients

  • Get free help applying, selecting a plan and enrolling in your area at
  • Numerous healthcare decision-support tools to help individuals understand healthcare costs.
  • Resources for selecting or changing a plan, plan categories, determining the total cost of care, and understanding the different kinds of plans.
  • MedlinePlus: Health Insurance. Resources to assist consumers understand and select insurance, includes patient handouts. Many in Spanish.

If you know of a great resource, let me know and I will add it! Please feel free to share or reuse this post.

Dana Abbey, MLS[i]

[i] Funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012344 with the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.

Streaming Storytime and Other Events

Recording programs and events for archival purposes and to share with members of your community likely seems like a less than revolutionary idea. But what about live-streaming events so that people in your community, throughout the state, and possibly around the world could join in?

Recently, the Pueblo City-County Library has decided to embark on streaming their programs, with their storytime as their pilot program! (Future videos will be hosted on the Pueblo website.)

One Book 4 Colorado streamed an author event with David Shannon last May, and schools and other library sites were able to join in, even if they couldn’t make it to the packed event at Anythink. Plans are in the works to stream this year’s One Book events, and possibly library events around Literacy Week.

How has your library used technology to reach a broader audience? Could live-streaming be a way you could reach new and different patrons?

Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries (SPELL)

The Colorado State Library held a great webinar on December 12, 2013 presenting the findings from SPELL (Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries), our year-long research project funded by an IMLS National Leadership Grant.

SPELL LogoThe webinar archive and presentation slides are now available: View the webinar archive and slides to find out research-based, effective strategies to reach low-income parents of children ages birth through 3 with an early literacy message using best practices from existing programs and literature, along with input from parents themselves. The webinar was presented by Dr. Mary Stansbury and Dr. Duan Zhang of the University of Denver, in partnership with the Colorado State Library.

The project report, along with the blueprint that libraries and other organizations will be able to use to help put the findings into practice, will be available soon on the SPELL website; stay tuned right here for updates.

We welcome your feedback on the webinar, the SPELL research findings, and next steps for the project; please share your questions, comments and suggestions here or contact Beth Crist, Youth and Family Services Consultant, Colorado State Library at or 303-866-6908.



Veteran’s Health Information Resources

Veterans and their family members need reliable health information resources sensitive and pertinent to their needs. They are unique community members with unique life events and experiences. Many of the skills and coping mechanisms veterans developed during service may prove counterproductive or misunderstood in civilian life. This, in addition to physical injuries and mental health issues, can make readjustment challenging for the individual, family members, and health providers.

Military Health Issues

Our nation’s nearly 24 million veterans have greater rates of obesity and diabetes, and over one-third suffer from arthritis. And suicide rates among veterans are 7-8 times higher than the general population – 1 nearly every 65 minutes.[i] Military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan[ii] survived wounds in numbers far greater than in previous wars – some 48,000 – due to advances in body armor, combat medicine, and improved evacuation procedures. However, the injuries sustained – traumatic brain injury, amputation, blindness, spinal cord injuries, and burns – require sophisticated, comprehensive, and often lifetime care. Mental health issues, like post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), are being reported in high numbers of returning service members. Veterans sustaining injuries from these two wars were more than twice as likely as those uninjured to have difficulty readjusting to civilian life, and nearly half stated strains in family relationships and frequent outbursts of anger.[iii]

Access to Care

Access to healthcare after deployment can be an additional challenge. Veterans are not automatically eligible for Veterans Affairs (VA) health care. Eligibility is based on veteran status, service-related disabilities, income level, and other factors. Even if an individual is eligible, barriers such as proximity to a VA facility and cost-sharing requirements may affect the likelihood of seeking care in the VA system. By the end of 2010, 2.15 million service members had been deployed, and of those returning:

·         23% suffered from mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)

·         20% from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

·         37% from depression

·         39% reported problems with alcohol[iv]

And a recent Institute of Medicine report found that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experienced inconsistencies in screening and treatment for these physical and mental health issues.

Rural veterans face additional health care challenges for a variety of reasons, including unequal access to higher quality services, shortages in qualified health professionals, lower incomes, and limited transportation options. On average, rural Veterans travel between 60-120 minutes for inpatient care, and 30-90 minutes for primary care. Forty percent of the nation’s veterans live in rural areas; three-fourths of rural veterans are over the age of 55.[v]


Nearly 1 in 7 homeless adults are veterans, with another 1.5 million at risk of homelessness. PTSD, depression, TBI, substance abuse, low incomes, unemployment, and difficulty reintegrating into society after long and repeated tours of duty contribute to this surge in homelessness. The Open Doors ( program, initiated to end homelessness by 2015, reported a 17% reduction in 2012. This program, a collaboration of 19 United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) member agencies, works to increase stable and affordable housing, provide opportunities for employment and improve access to healthcare.


Libraries are trusted institutions in the community. Library staffs are often members of the communities they serve and understand the diverse information needs of their customers. The National Library of Medicine’s health information resource MedlinePlus ( provides information about libraries ( in your community that offer consumer health resources and assistance.


There are many government sponsored and non-profit organizations serving the needs of veterans and their families. The Veterans Health resource guide ( provides a wealth of information for veterans, family members, care givers, and health providers. This guide has information on military health and exposures, clinical care information, insurance and benefits, recommended reading, and policy information. A few of the resources are highlighted below:

Amputee Coalition

The nation’s leading organization on limb loss, offering education, support and advocacy.  Provides information on what amputees might experience the first 12 months after limb loss, prosthetics, skin and tissue care, and physical therapy.

Military Families Resource Center

From the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. This sites focus is the mental health of the veteran, spouse, partner, children and caregivers. Information on how to talk with children about deployment and reintegration, how to deal with media coverage of conflicts, and the needs of returning service members.

Women Veterans Health Care

Women are the fastest growing group within the Veteran population. The Department of Veterans Affairs has several initiatives to improve services for women veterans.  This site proves information on health care services for women including reproductive care, rehabilitation, mental health, and treatment for military sexual trauma.


MedlinePlus has over 900 health topics, including military health. Resources for coping with deployment and separation, illness and injuries, the mental health effects of military service, and family issues.


Dana Abbey, MLS, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region, University of Colorado Health Sciences Library,

Terri Ottosen, MLIS, AHIP, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region, University of Maryland Baltimore Health Sciences and Human Services Library,


[i] Department of Veteran Affairs. Kemp, RN PhD, Janet, and Robert Bossarte, PhD. “Suicide Data Report, 2012.” (2013): N. pag. Web. 01 Aug. 2013. <>.

[ii] Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) is the name for the war in Afghanistan. Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) is the name of the conflict in Iraq that began on March 20, 2003, and ended on December 15, 2011. On September 1, 2010, Operation New Dawn (OND) became the new name of OIF (Secretary of Defense Memorandum, February 17, 2010).

[iii]“War and Sacrifice in the Post-9/11 Era.” Social and Demographic Trends. Pew Research Center, 05 Oct. 2011. Web. 01 Aug. 2013. <>.  

[iv] Committee on the Assessment of Readjustment Needs Of Military Personnel, Veterans, And Their Families. “Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families.” Institute Of Medicine, 2013. Web. 01 Aug. 2013. <>.

[v] Skupien, PhD, M.S., R.N, Mary Beth. “The Health Needs of Rural Veterans.” FORUM: Translating Research Into Quality Health Care For Veterans. Department Of Veterans Affairs, Oct. 2010. Web. 01 Aug. 2013. <>.

AskColorado/AskAcademic Celebrates 10 Years!

askcoloradologo1    AskAcademic_Vertical-small

On Monday, AskColorado/AskAcademic (ASK) marked its tenth anniversary. Since September. 2, 2003, ASK librarians have quietly and efficiently fielded over 370,000 sessions with K-12 students, college students, business researchers, military personnel, and many other information seekers. Many of our libraries are celebrating today with cake, and we’re posting photos at our Facebook page.

Recent comments from customers highlight the information niche filled by the ASK services: 

  • My librarian not only helped me find the article I needed, she taught things about the database that will better help me find exactly what I need in the future. Great job! (AskAcademic)
  • This is a great service, and not only would I use it again I am a teacher that would recommend this to students to use to help with research! (AskColorado)
  • It’s 6:30 a.m. and my question was answered by a “real” person. I’m impressed! (AskColorado)

The ASK service has worked with citizens from every county in Colorado on a wide range of questions spanning the gamut from homework help for kids, to what to read next, to assistance finding medical or legal information. Recent research questions include: 

  • I’m trying to find some articles from the magazine Biometrics, but I don’t know where to start looking. Can you help? (AskColorado)
  • Does the government or state control animal rabies testing? (AskColorado)
  • Where can I find annotated bibliographies on educating non-violent felony offender? (AskAcademic)
  • I need to cite three outside sources, which provide credible and appropriate support for my point of view. Can you help me find some? (AskAcademic)  

The following libraries are founding members of our organization, and ten-year, continuing members, which means they’ve been with us since the beginning! We think these libraries deserve special recognition and a round of applause:  

 * Adams State University, Nielsen Library
* Aims Community College, Kiefer Library
* Auraria Library
*  Aurora Public Library
*  Bud Werner Memorial Library (E. Routt LD, Steamboat)
* Colorado Christian University Library
*  Colorado State Library
* Colorado State Publications Library (Referral Library)
* Elbert County Library District
* Jefferson County Public Library
*  Lamar Public Library
* Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado at Denver, Ancschutz Medical Campus (Referral Library)
*  Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library (Broomfield)
*  Colorado Mesa University, Tomlinson Library
* Montrose Regional Library District
* National Indian Law Library (Referral Library)
* Pitkin County Public Library
* Salida Regional Library (Southern Chaffee County Regional Library District)
* Security Public Library
* Sterling Public Library
* Summit County Library
* Western State University, Savage Library
* Westminster Law Library, University of Denver (Referral Library)

Check our website for a full listing of our member libraries!

ASK is a member-based organization that operates on a model similar to NRP: We’re grant and member funded and supported. Thank you to all Colorado librarians, who, over the years, have helped us to make AskColorado and AskAcademic the high quality, personalized service that it is today.  If you would like to learn more about our organization, including how to join, check out the following webpage:

Yours in reference and information services,

*Kris Johnson, AskColorado/AskAcademic (ASK) Operations Manager 

CLEL Bell Awards

New Picture Book Award To Support Early Literacy
Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy Launches the CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards


Denver, Colorado, May 17, 2013 – Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy ( an advisory group to the Colorado State Library, is excited to announce the inaugural year of the CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards, a new children’s literature award created to recognize picture books that provide excellent support of early literacy development in young children.

The first CLEL Bell Awards will be announced February 5, 2014, one title in each of five categories representing an early literacy practice: Read, Write, Sing, Talk, and Play. Research has shown that engaging children in these practices builds language skills and prepares children to become successful readers.

“I am thrilled to have these new awards!” says Carol Edwards, Co-Manager of Children and Family Services at Denver Public Library and a Bell Awards Selection Committee member. “Being aware of the new books coming out and paying attention to the ways they can extend conversation and interaction with children—beyond the act of reading—seems like strong support for our work in libraries with this age group.”

Suggestions for consideration for the 2014 awards are accepted through November 15, 2013 at the CLEL website ( Winning titles will demonstrate content or theme related to one of the early literacy practices, and encourage interaction between adults and children. The five award winners will be released with support materials that describe how each title supports early literacy development, and with suggestions for ways parents, caregivers, and librarians can extend the reading experience with children, through shared activities appropriate for home, childcare settings, and library storytime.

Fostering community discussion about the nominated titles is one of the goals of the Bell Awards, and conversation will be encouraged via regular posts on the CLEL blog ( and through social media.

“Getting the conversation going about how books really can make a difference in encouraging parents and caregivers to increase their early literacy interactions seems like a win-win to me,” says Edwards. “It’s a win for the professionals who introduce new books and encourage best practices, and it’s a win for the child who benefits from more singing, talking, writing, reading, and playing.”

The Selection Committee is comprised of CLEL members from several Colorado public libraries: Shirley Anderson, High Plains Library District; Carol Edwards, Denver Public Library; Jaime Gotlieb, Douglas County Libraries; Rachel Hartman, Denver Public Library; Barbara Huff, Pikes Peak Library District; Sarah Johnson, Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library; Mary Kuehner, Jefferson County Public Library; Danica Midlil, Douglas County Libraries; Susan Oakes, Denver Public Library (retired); Carol Wagstaff, Douglas County Libraries; and is chaired by Melissa Depper, Arapahoe Library District.
For more information, visit the CLEL Bell Awards webpages ( or contact the Selection Committee at

About CLEL

Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy is an advisory group to the Colorado State Library, created in 2008. CLEL members work to strengthen children’s literacy through library services and community advocacy.

What’s So Important About February 1st?

Glad you ASKed!

AskColorado Logo

Today is a birthday/anniversary or sorts for AskColorado/AskAcademic (ASK.) It’s not THE anniversary of the first day we started fielding questions (which is Sept. 3), but AN anniversary…three years to be specific:

Three years ago we changed quite a few things in our organization: We moved to a non-library vendor software and we branded AskAcademic and created a new website. These changes were biggies, but  starting our own After-Hours service was the most significant change. We went from using a vendor-based staffing service employing librarians around the country, to operating our very own service staffed by librarians in Colorado. We started with six librarians and have since grown the service to fifteen. All money stays in the state and we now have an in-house crew of expert virtual reference staffers.

Our librarians have answered a tremendous number of questions over the past three years (and the six before that.) Here are some stats:

AfterHours Librarians, Sessions Fielded:

  • 2010: 6588
  • 2011: 8445
  • 2012: 9015
  • TOTAL: 24,048

AskAcademic Librarians Sessions Fielded:

  • 2010: 1687
  • 2011: 1773
  • 2012: 3075
  • TOTAL: 6535

Public Librarians, Sessions Fielded:

  • 2010: 22273
  • 2011: 17579
  • 2012: 15317
  • TOTAL: 55169

It’s been a great three years! Member libraries: Be watching for cake on September 3rd when we mark our 10th anniversary.

–Kris Johnson, State Library

Announcing new service: Lynx

By now, many Colorado libraries are taking advantage of a new package of EBSCO databases. The package contains a diverse range of electronic resources (including full-text and multimedia assets) to suit school, public library and academic library needs.
This new package represents a good value for libraries. But databases alone are insufficient. This is why the State Library and the Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC) are pleased to formally announce a new joint SERVICE named Lynx. Continue reading ‘Announcing new service: Lynx’