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Community Health Engagement: Health Corners at Four Free Library of Philadelphia Branches

The Health Corners

In 2015, in partnership with the School of Nursing and the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Holman Biotech Commons (then known as the Biomedical Library) applied for and received a grant award from the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) to establish Health Corners in three branches of the Free Library. In 2017, a Health Corner was added to a fourth branch, bringing the corners to the Kingsessing, Paschalville, Haverford, and Blackwell branches in West PhiladelphiaThe NNLM award supplied computers and teaching tools as well as some desired books for the Libraries' health collections. 

The Health Corners feature each branch's online and print health resources in one convenient spot in the library. Computers are readily available for walk-in use at any time by library patrons who are seeking reliable health information. One of the online resources the patrons are pointed to is the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus (


Photos of the Kingsessing Branch's Health Corner

Photo of the Paschalville Branch's Health Corner

Photo of the Haverford Branch's Health Corner

Community Nursing Course Collaboration

In the School of Nursing's "Nursing in the Community" (N380) class, which is required of all undergraduates student nurses, students move between classroom and community settings to address nursing practice in a public health paradigm. As a part of this course, students are assigned to do their clinical rotations at one of the three Free Library branches, providing occasional staffing at the Health Corners. While there, nursing students do blood pressure screenings, chat with patrons about health questions, and offer workshops on topics such as healthy snacks and summer safety.

Nursing liaison librarians further support this course through identification of additional community sites, classroom presentations, research guides, and field trip opportunities on related topics in health literacy and community engagement. In Fall 2017, select sections of N380 visited a variety of libraries (academic, hospital, public, law, government, and specialized libraries) around the city to understand how librarians respond to community needs, with an emphasis on health information needs. 

Additionally, nursing students were also placed at the Philadelphia FIGHT AIDS Library (now called the Critical Paths Learning Center), the world's only lending library that specializes in HIV/AIDS information. Students updated health information handouts for the AIDS Library.

In 2019, the School of Nursing secured a grant from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to help the Blackwell Regional Library obtain up-to-date books for its health corner.

In 2021, the Penn Libraries Community Health Engagement Team joined the Philadelphia Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 (Philly CEAL) to support Penn and community partners including Penn Nursing, Philly Counts, the Free Library of Philadelphia, EduCare, and many more in addressing health-related misinformation locally. In the 2022 - 2023 academic year, the Penn Libraries team (Hannah Rutledge, Gina Pambianchi, Liz Blake, Aman Kaur, Larissa Gordon, and SarahBeth Coyle), collaboratively created a website of health literacy resources with the Penn Libraries Web Unit for block captains, Philadelphia's neighborhood/community leaders, along with children's book lists about health for local school libraries. The Penn Libraries is partnering with the Blackwell Regional Library to gain feedback on the website and plan an in-person "Unraveling Health Misinformation" workshop series bringing Penn and community presenters to discuss a wide variety of health topics.


Our partners make the Health Corners possible! 

  • Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation

  • Free Library of Philadelphia Kingsessing Branch

  • Free Library of Philadelphia Paschalville Branch

  • Free Library of Philadelphia Southwest Cluster

  • Free Library of Philadelphia Haverford Branch

  • Philadelphia FIGHT AIDS Library (now called the Critical Path Learning Center)

  • Community Nursing Course Clinical Site Coordinators, School of Nursing

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