The Medical Library Association Guide to Cancer Information: Authoritative, Patient-Friendly Print, and Electronic Resources

By Felber, Sue H. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, April 2008 | Go to article overview

The Medical Library Association Guide to Cancer Information: Authoritative, Patient-Friendly Print, and Electronic Resources


Felber, Sue H., Journal of the Medical Library Association


Volk, Ruti Mails. The Medical Library Association Guide to Cancer Information: Authoritative, Patient-Friendly Print, and Electronic Resources. New York, NY: NealSchuman Publishers, 2007. 331 p. $76.50, members; $85.00, nonmembers. ISBN: 978-1-55570-585.5

Are you having trouble finding authoritative information about cancer or evaluating what resources you do find for patients and the public? Cancer questions abound in library reference work because the prevalence and impact of cancer affects huge numbers of people each year with new diagnoses, treatments, and survivor issues. Most people have been touched by cancer through their personal experiences or the illness of family, friends, or community members. The Medical Library Association Guide to Cancer Information provides an excellent starting point for answering cancer questions in all types of libraries and for a wide diversity of people.

Having served as librarian for the Patient Education Resource Center at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1999, Volk brings a wealth of experience to her book. She also knows the importance of knowledge about cancer for patients and families from the personal experience of her young daughter's brain cancer. As she states in her preface, she hopes that knowledge about the disease will empower patients and families to make informed decisions. Volk's book is indeed valuable to patients, families, and librarians who deal with providing cancer information to the public.

Volk wrote this book "to enable patients and caregivers to identify and evaluate the most authoritative, unbiased quality information sources in lay language to match a specific information request" and to help librarians with collection development (p. xiv). To this end, Volk created short information guides that have a few carefully selected sources to be used as starting points for information gathering. Because cancer is an overall term for more than a hundred specific types of the disease, the challenge of answering questions can be overwhelming. In addition, the diversity of patients and their situations makes finding answers from the right information resource and providing that information at the right time for patrons a constant process for librarians.

Volk presents this information in three parts. Part I provides a concise groundwork of knowledge to provide cancer information to the public, explains key concepts and terms, and describes the most important general cancer information resources. …

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