Finding Environmental Health Information: Sources & Strategies for Effective Searching

MLA Course
Listing Archived: Friday, April 20, 2018

Primary contact information...
University of Michigan, Taubman Health Sciences Library
1135 E Catherine St
Ann Arbor MI , 48109
United States
Carol Shannon is the primary contact.
Phone: 7346156168
Region: Midwest

Description: Human health is profoundly shaped by our environment: the buildings we live in, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the noise that surrounds us. All of these elements affect our quality of life, our years of healthy life, and health disparities within populations. Answers to environmental health questions are often complex by their nature and can be difficult to answer, usually requiring a number of wide ranging and often hard-to-find and -use sources. This workshop focuses on the practical and theoretical skills of sifting through the vast array of resources, governmental & non-governmental, grey literature, and data sources to select the appropriate resources to answer a particular question. Through hands-on exercises participants will learn how to navigate these resources, reinforcing learning from the initial brief presentations and resource demonstrations. Working in small groups, participants will identify multi-pronged search strategies for more complex environmental health-related topics.

Experience Level: Beginning Plus
CE Contact Hours: 2
Professional Competencies: Health Sciences Information Services
Subject: Electronic Resources, Reference Resources & Services, Subject Specific Resources
Course Type: Face to Face, Hands-on

Educational Objective: Participants will 1) learn about and use local, state, and national resources used to find information on environmental health and policy; 2) learn to identify policies on a variety of environmental health topics; and 3) be able to practice course knowledge through hands-on exercises.


1. Introduction
      a.  What we will cover
      b.  CE objectives
2. What is environmental health?
      a.  Broad area included
      b.  Specialized terminology to keep in mind
3.  Key resources with hands-on exercises 
      a.  Scientific
      b.  Regulatory
      c.  Literature databases
4.  Data
      a.  Who collects data & why?
      b.  How to read statistical tables
      c.  Key collections of data & statistics (TOXNET, Bureau of Labor Statistics, WISQARS, OSHA, Health Indicators Warehouse)
      d.  Hands-on activity
5.  Grey literature
      a.  Think tanks (Rainforest Alliance, Center for Clean Air Policy, Food Research & Action Center, RAND) 
      b.  Advanced Google searches
      c.  Hands-on activity
6.  Case studies:  group exercises and discussion on specific topics

Need for This Course: Requests from colleagues. Health policy overall is highly interdisciplinary and thus more challenging to search for. Our particular area of health--environmental health, broadly defined--is even more complex than other areas of health policy, because of the need for the use of multiple resources, including grey literature and data. The issues arising from the Flint water crisis and form fracking, to name just a few, shows the relevance of this area for librarians.

The instructional methods used include Lecture, Demonstration, Slides, Discussion, Hands-on Exercises, and Case Study.

Participant Materials: Presentation slides, which will contain resource lists and search strategies.

Facility Requirements: Laptops for participants, and a computer and projector for presenters.

Additional Evaluation: None, the MLA form should suffice.