Mobile School Health Information Initiative (MoSHI)

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The Mobile School Health Information Initiatve (MoSHI) was funded by the MidContinental Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine from February 1, 2010 - February 28, 2011. Led by staff at the Becker Medical Library, Washington University School of Medicine, MoSHI was a train-the-trainer program to connect K-12 librarians in the St. Louis metropolitan area with credible health information.


The goals of the funded project were to

  • Promote ideas on how credible health information on the web can foster interdisciplinary curriculum collaboration between teachers and the school library.
  • Gain experience using health information resources on the web to better serve student, administrator and parent needs, while giving them tools to improve their health literacy.

Background & Context

In early 2009, a school librarian in the Mini-Medical School event at Washington University suggested Becker Library should consider training K-12 librarians how to find credible health information.

School librarians are often the only information contacts in their buildings. They can spend disproportionate amounts of time supporting writing-intensive classes, leaving little time to provide quality support for health, science or math classes. Their training and certification process may not include any exposure to searching for credible health information.

Becker Library is fortunate to have a former school librarian on staff, located at the Family Resource Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital. After brainstorming with her, and 6 months of work, Becker Library and 3 other community allies hosted a pilot version of the MoSHI class in October 2009. The course was a success, and school districts made requests to deliver it during librarian meetings. Such outreach is not funded as part of Becker Library's base budget, and one of the librarians in the pilot works part-time.

To meet the incoming requests, we applied for and received a Continuity of Health Information Award from the MidContinental Region, and renamed the pilot effort MoSHI.


The pilot had been a half-day workshop. The revised curriculum could be delivered in an hour, though 90 minutes was optimal for hands-on practice. The new course covered:

  • Evaluating health messages according to National Association for Media Literacy Education Core Principles (part of Missouri Grade-Level Expectations)
  • Additional NLM products, time permitting

All participants received a workbook. We used imprinted 15 oz. coffee mugs and imprinted USB drives to promote the project.


Three key groups helped us sustain and promote our work during the pilot and funded project:

  • Family Resource Center, St. Louis Children's Hospital
  • Gateway Media Literacy Partners, Inc.
  • School Outreach & Youth Development, BJC HealthCare


Participants completed both an in-class evaluation, and a follow-up evaluation sent via Survey Monkey approximately 3 months later. Both evaluations were approved by the Washington University Human Research Protection Office.

Evidence for Success

  • MoSHI trained 93 participants during the funded period. Most participants either served elementary or high school audiences.
  • Anecdotal reviews of the course included:
    • “Totally useable information.”
    • “…we use this with health classes frequently - our teachers love this resource for all the right reasons…”
    • “We have a tool to talk to our chemistry and physical education teachers now. I can’t wait to get back to my library.”
    • “I am a middle school librarian and I teach a unit on heart health each semester to my health classes. I shared these resources with the students and teachers.”
  • One participant e-mailed the course links to 288 parents on a district list-serv.
  • Another participant used the course links as Sites of the Week on her library's home page.

Lessons Learned


  • Do not assume interest from large urban districts.
    • Some school districts no longer hire a true “coordinator” for library media services. That responsibility is often left to an overworked superintendent.
  • Some school districts plan their meetings for librarians a year at a time, and you have to start early to be considered for the agenda.
  • School librarians may have to use meeting time for vendor demonstrations, not professional development.
  • We are fortunate to have a former school librarian on staff. If you do not have that expertise on staff, reach out to a nearby K-12 school and make friends with its librarian(s).


  • Once you have made contacts and done presentation(s), market future opportunities by mentioning all the places you presented and, if possible, mention a specific librarian’s name as a reference (with permission, of course). This demonstrates credibility and makes it clear that your content was relevant to a K-12 curriculum.
  • Expect marketing premiums or imprinted items to take longer than estimated.
    • Coffee mugs are great premiums, but heavy to carry to training sites.
  • Implement a systematic process for contacting librarians and following up with them based on the school calendar. Attempts to contact librarians at the end of the school year were not successful. Invitations seemed to be forgotten or ignored over the summer. Make as many contacts as possible in August and then follow up at two-month intervals with reminders.

Internal lessons for academic health science libraries

  • For Becker Medical Library, this project yielded benefits beyond its funding.
    • One project librarian was invited to be part of an NIH grant as a result of a faculty member's impressions of the success of MoSHI and its applicability to her work.
    • The lessons learned from MoSHI will inform another campus project funded by the National Cancer Institute.
    • Project staff became more involved with community allies. One was elected to a community group's Board of Directors.
  • The number of participants who had never seen NLM web sites suggests the K-12 audience is a missed outreach opportunity for health science libraries.

Resources Required

Outside Funding

  • We used the Continuity of Health Information Award to cover the additional wages needed for our part-time librarian to teach for MoSHI, and for photocopying, travel, marketing premiums, and some new equipment.

Institutional Commitment

  • Working with K-12 librarians meant rearranging schedules for the MoSHI project team. This meant balancing MoSHI training sessions with job responsibilities.
  • The full-time members of the MoSHI team contributed their work to the award in-kind.


Through an agreement with the Family Resource Center, their part-time librarian can continue to offer MoSHI sessions covered by her regular salary. Other project staff will continue to contribute in-kind. Becker Medical Library will absorb the cost of travel and additional training materials.

Formal Presentations

We have presented the results of the MoSHI project at the MidContinental Chapter of the Medical Library Association annual meeting in Wichita, KS, in October 2010, and at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Denver, CO, in November 2010.


Project Team

Will Olmstadt, MSLS, MPH, AHIP, Public Health Librarian, Washington University, Becker Medical Library, [email protected]

Judy Hansen, MAEd, MLIS, Consumer Health Librarian, Washington University & St. Louis Children's Hospital, Family Resource Center, [email protected]

Bob Engeszer, MLS, AHIP, Associate Director, Washington University, Becker Medical Library, [email protected]