Document Type


Publication Date



Library and Information Services



Publication Title

Reference Services Review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to introduce the articles in the special theme issue.
Design/methodology/approach - This paper provides some background and context on health literacy.
Findings - Health literacy is a critical constellation of skills. Librarians’ abilities and expertise are well-suited to contributing to the improvement of health literacy for various populations in various settings. Librarians are actively engaging in a wide variety of health literacy initiatives in collaboration with other professionals and organizations.
Practical implications - Specific examples of how librarians are contributing to health literacy are described.
Social implications - Lack of health literacy is associated with poor health outcomes and increased health costs. Multiple organizations, think tanks and government agencies have called for addressing disparities in health literacy.
Originality/value - This paper provides an overview and introduction to the special issue on health literacy.


This author pre-print is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit Emerald Insight's Website.

Theresa Arndt served as special issue editor for Reference Services Review’s Health Information Literacy issue, Volume 44, No. 2, 2016.