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East Brunswick Librarian Named “Mover and Shaker” By Library Journal

East Brunswick Librarian Named “Mover and Shaker” By Library Journal
Library Journal named East Brunswick Public Library’s Information Manager Karen Parry as one of fifty “Movers and Shakers” in libraries in the magazine’s March issue

Library users in Middlesex County have known for years about the innovative services that East Brunswick Public Library librarians provide. One East Brunswick Public Library employee is receiving national attention.

Library Journal named East Brunswick Public Library’s Information Manager Karen Parry as one of fifty “Movers and Shakers” in libraries in the magazine’s March issue. The honor celebrates librarians that are transforming what libraries deliver and how they interact with the communities they serve.

Parry, an East Brunswick resident, has been part of East Brunswick Public Library since 2001. She was named a “Mover and Shaker” for starting the library’s “Just for the Health of It!” consumer health and wellness information initiative in 2009.

“The initiative has a personal beginning. When my mother was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, I realized how difficult it is to search for reliable health care information,” said Parry. “Soon after, I also noticed that the town’s demographics were changing, with more elderly and new immigrant patrons asking our librarians for more understandable health information.”

“Just for the Health of It” is a consumer health research service, connecting library customers with information about their medications, tips on how to improve their wellness and programs. Through the program, library customers are provided information from librarians on staff that are certified by the Medical Library Association’s Consumer Health Information Specialization Program. While they do not conduct diagnoses or make healthcare recommendations, the librarians can research and provide information about healthcare topics so library customers can make informed decisions.

With a goal of providing equal access to trustworthy health and wellness information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate, Parry put together a comprehensive outreach plan. The librarians share information at several outreach visits in the community month. The library also regularly hosts workshop, featuring healthcare professionals who discuss pertinent medical topics for all ages, from infants through seniors. 

The “Just for the Health of It!” program was cited as a model program by the New Jersey Hospital Association in an award in 2017.  Healthier Middlesex, a consortium between Robert Wood Johnson and Saint Peter’s University Hospitals, has made public libraries part of their three-year Community Health Improvement Plan,  with the goal of expanding “Just for the Health of It!” throughout Middlesex and Somerset Counties.

“Our library staff is always developing new programs and initiatives to better serve our community,” said Jennifer Podolsky, East Brunswick Public Library Director. “Our staff and Library Board of Trustees are very proud that the success of Karen and ‘Just For The Health Of It!’ has been recognized on a national level.”

Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers list first debuted in 2001. Parry joins thirty other librarians who have been named Movers and Shakers.
Information about upcoming Just for the Health of It! programs, resources and services can be found online at www.wellinks.org