Libraries are frequently forced to deal with people's health problems. That's why some are adding medical professionals to their staff.
“I’m always surprised by how many health questions I get,” said Renee Pokorny, branch supervisor at the Philadelphia Free Library.
It's no surprise that she's surprised. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, 73 percent of people who visit a public library in America go looking for answers about their health.
“People tend to be more comfortable asking their librarians something rather than their doctor where they might feel rushed or intimidated,” said Pokorny.
But as well-read as they may be, librarians aren't equipped to offer serious health advice or care. Adding to this troublesome trend is the fact that most of the people seeking medical help at libraries are homeless or mentally ill and in need of more care than the average person.
Instead of making the people go to the doctor, though, public libraries in Philadelphia and a small number of other places are bringing health services directly to their patrons.