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Book Review   |    
Library Services in Mental Health Settings
Lyn M. Dietrich, M.S.L.S., A.H.I.P.
Psychiatric Services 1998; doi:
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edited by Mary E. Johnson, M.A.L.S., A.H.I.P.; Lanham, Maryland, Scarecrow Press, 1997, 236 pages, $42

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This significant volume is the first to examine the specialized health care information provided by mental health libraries that are undergoing major organizational and technological change. Issues and models of service are clearly organized and presented by experts from mental health libraries in hospitals, mental health centers, academic centers, state institutions, schools of psychology, and professional associations.

Mary Johnson, the book's editor, has provided services to public mental health institutions throughout Missouri for 13 years. She is the library director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health in St. Louis. She is also the author of the first chapter, which presents an insightful brief overview of mental health care and treatment and the librarian's role in providing essential information that has an impact on treatment outcomes.

Two descriptive chapters offer an overview of library resources that aid mental health clinicians, educators, researchers, and policy makers. Susan Heffner of the American Psychiatric Association presents a well-organized, concise history of health policy in the United States. Bruce Gardham of the Canadian Mental Health Association clearly describes the Canadian community health system and how it has affected demands and roles for Canadian library collections.

A highlight of the book is the presence of extensive bibliographies and directories. Early on Heffner provides directories for researching policy questions on the World Wide Web. Barbara Epstein of the University of Pittsburgh with Ester Saghafi of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and members of their staffs have compiled a selective guide to print literature that could be recommended as a core collection in clinical psychiatry, a list of core periodicals for a psychiatric library, and a list of psychiatric Internet resources, including Web sites, electronic mailing lists, and news groups. This comprehensive material will be helpful for collection development for any organization.

Dorothy Spencer of Samuel Merritt College in California and Louise Colbert of the California School of Professional Psychology propose new standards to evaluate whether libraries are meeting the needs of clients and fulfilling their service mission in this era of change. The authors outline the agencies and organizations that currently provide standards and regulations for mental health information services in a variety of settings and present methods to assure compliance. The authors' practical list of quality indicators is recommended for use by librarians in collaboration with their administrations for self-evaluation of mental health information services.

Of particular note is the history of consumerism discussed in a chapter on library services for persons with psychiatric disabilities by Anita Lyon of the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center. Historically, patient libraries contained popular books, magazines, and multimedia to engage the mind during recovery. In mental health settings today, library services to consumers include access to authoritative materials for medical information. Lyon presents models for meeting consumers' information needs. Along the same lines, reflecting the importance of patient-focused care and an informed, satisfied customer, the consumer and patient health information section of the Medical Library Association has developed a statement on roles for the librarian in consumer health information and patient education, which is included in an appendix.

Presenting an overview of the specialized collections and roles of mental health librarians, Library Services in Mental Health Settings should appeal to a wide audience of clinicians, educators, researchers, and policy makers who require mental health information for decision making, patient care, and research.

Ms. Dietrich is librarian at the Mental Health Sciences Library of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and is past chair of the mental health librarians section of the Medical Library Association.




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