Health Library
The slogan,

When you want to know more," may apply to the nearly 150,000 patrons who have used The Health Library at Stanford since its founding in 1989. But the library, including a branch in the hospital and a virtual branch on the World Wide Web, also serves the medical community both directly and indirectly. This month Fact File talks with Barbara Ralston, library director; Ronald L. Kaye, director of medical education and a rheumatologist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and a member of The Health Library's Advisory Board; and Jacqueline Roose, chair of Volunteer Services at the library.

1. The Health Library was launched in 1989 under the auspices of Jeanne Kennedy, director of the Office of Community and Patient Relations, as a community service of Stanford University Hospital. Founding directors were Kristine Erving and Linda Romley Irvine.

2. The 1,000-square-foot main library is currently located at 248 Stanford Shopping Center but is expected to move next year to a larger, 1,400-square-foot facility in the shopping center next to Ristorante Piatti facing El Camino Real. The new facility will have additional computer terminals and a conference room for private discussions.

3. The main library is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m. Many of The Health Library's informational services are available on the World Wide Web ( More than 200 selected and annotated medical sites serve as primary links to cover the broad range of consumer health questions. Library staff and volunteers can respond to e-mail inquiries Contact them by e-mail ( or by phone (650) 725-8400 or, 1-(800) 295-5177. Fax: (650) 725-1444.

4. A satellite library, the LaVerne Wilson Health Library, located in hospiotal room E303, serves inpatients and clinic patients - as well as physicians and other staff. Affiliated libraries, with collection maintained and technical support provided by The Health Library, include sites at the Senior Center of Palo Alto, the Peninsula Center for the Blind and Visually Disabled, the Children's Health Council, and Cowell Student Health Center.

5. The main library offers more than 6,000 books, as well as pamphlets, periodicals, clipping files, video and audio tapes, CD-ROM references, foreign language reference materials, informational tours and assistance with research papers for students. Special collections of books and tapes are available in Chinese and in Spanish. A collection of more than 500 topics comprise the clipping files, which are reviewed for timeliness and geared to a lay audience.

6. Personal assistance with reference materials is available from 120 trained volunteer library reference associates, who are supervised by a professional medical librarian. Content is reviewed by a content review committee consisting of physicians, nurses and a librarian.

7. Other services include free customized research packets for hospital patients and their families. Custom packets of information on specific topics are also available for nonpatients for a nominal charge, ranging from $5 for a small packet of printed materials to $40 or more for a customized Medline search. Photocopies, Internet printouts and InfoTrac printouts are available for 10 cents per page.

8. Courses on Internet and World Wide Web use are available to volunteers at The Health Library. Hospital staff are welcome to participate.

9. Services and programs are publicized through a community calendar available by mail and online. Referrals to support groups and other community services are available.

10. Outreach services include public lectures and programs, as well as education programs for underserved segments of the local community. Spanish-language videos and pamphlets are available for distribution in appropriate communities.

11. All physicians with practice privileges at Stanford University Hospital are invited to fill out profiles about themselves and their practices. These profiles are made available to patrons at the main library.

12. Stanford University Hospital provides 53 percent of the library's $400,000 annual budget, and this figure hasn't changed following the merger. Other sponsors, who together provide 30 percent of the library's support, include the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, the Stanford Shopping Center (which has donated the site since the library's inception), the Menlo Medical Clinic of UCSF Stanford Health Care, and the Children's Health Council. Donations, from more than 800 members of the public, cover 8 percent of the budget. Individuals are invited to become library members - $25 or $15 annually for students and seniors. Membership fees provide 4 percent of the budget. An additional 2 percent comes from user fees, and 4 percent comes from other sources.

13. The library offers a consulting service for other communities and agencies trying to create a community health information center. For information, contact Ralston at (650) 498-5033.

14. The Health Library is integrated with activities of the School of Medicine. For example, the library expects to host a six-week internship under the auspices of the Stanford Medical Informatics Program.

15. In addition to the director, paid staff includes a manager of library of services, Nora Cain, who is also responsible for maintaining the virtual branch; a professional librarian (position vacant); an office manager, Jeanne Durnell; and two half-time office assistants. Kathy Stamm is the branch librarian at the in-hospital branch, and Jill Mittelman coordinates education programs.

16. Kaye graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan in 1957, and then served a residency and fellowship in internal medicine and rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He joined the Palo Alto Medical Clinic as a physician and as director of medical education in 1963. At the same time, he joined the teaching service of Stanford medical school, where he now serves as a clinical professor of medicine. Kaye has served on numerous state and national committees, including a term as chair of the Committee on Continuing Medical Education (1969-1975) of the California Medical Association. He has served on the executive board of the American Society of Clinical Rheumatology since 1968 and was president from 1974 to 1976. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in London. Current publication positions include the editorial review board of the Archives of Internal Medicine and the Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. As a member of the Health Library advisory board, Kaye advises on community and sponsor relations, content review and fund-raising issues. He also lectures on osteoporosis and arthritis for the library's education program.

Ralston received her BS in medical microbiology from Stanford in 1975. A registered medical technologist, she served as a microbiology consultant in 1975-76 for Arthur D. Little Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., working in locations as varied as Norway and Abu Dhabi. She received her master's in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1980. When she returned to the Bay Area in spring 1989, she became the third volunteer to sign on with the new Health Library. She joined the paid staff in 1995 as assistant to the director, and she became director when co-founder Erving retired in 1996.

Roose received her master's degree from San Francisco State University in 1968 and then became an assistant trust officer at United California Bank. For 12 years she was purchasing manager for Linear Technology Corp., overseeing all aspects of a $2.5 million procurement budget. In 1994, she became a library research associate at The Health Library, and since 1995 she has served as the library's chair of volunteer services. Go to

Chief of Staff

President of the medical staff

Fact File: The Health Library


News Summary

Filled beds may be year-end phenomenon

UCSF Stanford Health Care names clinical administrators

Managed care course

Four-way move completed for outpatient services

AIDS program

Outpatient Pharmacy

Correction for Quick Dial Update