Welcome to the Public Libraries for Health Toolkit!

We know that good genes, a healthy lifestyle and access to care are all important when it comes to health. But we also know that place matters more than any of these factors; the conditions where we live, learn, work and play have a tremendous impact on our opportunities for good health.

Public libraries and health equity: What's the connection?

Public libraries are trusted institutions with access to a variety of resources and a unique understanding of the local communities that they serve, make them the perfect partners for health equity work.
In 2012, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation accessed the unique community role of libraries by launching the Public Libraries for Health grant-making program. We invited seven libraries in both urban and rural areas to implement projects that would help people reach their full health potential: Austin Public Library, Duluth Public Library, Hennepin County Central Library, Marshall-Lyon County Library, Rochester Public Library, Owatonna Public Library and Thorson Memorial Library.
Along the way, these libraries became local leaders in pursuing health equity, and we collaborated with them on documenting their journey. Now we're ready to bring this vision to public libraries across the United States. The Public Libraries for Health Toolkit is here to guide your library through every step of the project planning process.

Did you know?

  • Public libraries in the U.S. host more than 1.5 billion visits each year.
  • Public libraries lend books 2.4 billion times (at least 8 times for each visitor).
  • There are more libraries than McDonald's restaurants in the U.S.
  • More than half of young adults and seniors living in poverty in the U.S. use public libraries to find work, apply to college, secure government benefits and learn about medical treatments.