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A Library For Everyone: Three Libraries Provide Integrated Approach To Health Literacy

Ashley Brock

Six years ago, Ashley Brock, MLS, AHIP, Family Library/Literacy Program manager, visited a family member after their surgery at Cook Children’s Medical Center and found her dream job.

During the visit, Ashley discovered the Matustik Family Health Library – a space on the first floor of the medical center where patient families obtain health information on a consumer level.

“I thought it was such a neat place for families to go,” Ashley said. “I have always been interested in the medical field, so I remember thinking this would be a perfect fit.”

Ashley’s library career started at a public library in Frisco while working on a master’s degree in Library Sciences at Texas Woman’s University and then moved on to the Dallas Public Library. But she has always been interested in the medical field.

Soon after visiting Cook Children’s, Ashley applied and was hired as a librarian for the Schwarz Health Sciences Library which is a place for all employees, health care providers with admitting and clinical privileges and students while on a rotation.

Four health sciences librarians and a pediatric clinical nurse specialist provide timely and relevant print and electronic resources in support of evidence-based practice and research.

The library houses 16 desktop computers, two laptops, a printer, scanner and fax machine. It is named after Edwin Schwarz, M.D., Fort Worth’s first pediatrician who dedicated his life to the wellbeing of Tarrant County’s children.

Empowering Families With Knowledge   
In November 2021, Ashley transitioned to the Matustik Family Health Library – a space on the first floor of the medical center where patient families obtain understandable, up-to-date information on a consumer level. The library honors Cassandra Matustik, M.D., who had a passion for improving children’s lives. Ashley is a curator of the books for the collection and provides consults to patient families among other services.

“Being in the hospital is overwhelming on its own,” Ashley said. “I want the families to feel empowered to care for their children by giving them quality information. They can trust us with that.”

Ashley said they get a lot of foot traffic at the Matustik Family Health Library where families often use the computers, printers and fax machines – a difference maker during an unexpected stay. Whether they need to file FMLA paperwork or insurance for their job, Ashley is there to help. She is also a notary and regularly notarizes documents for families.

“It seems simple, but these services are very valuable to families when they need it,” Ashley said.

Matustik Family Health Library

Do You Have a Family In Need Of Information?

The Matustik Family Health Library is a special place for our patients' families and caregivers. Professional librarians will help families find the understandable, up-to-date information needed to make the best possible health decisions for their child.

Ask a Librarian Health Information helps families find information about a condition, procedure, medicine or health related questions.

A Library For Kids   
Patients also have their own library to visit – the Bomar Library named after William Bomar who was the founding chairman of the Board of Trustees at Cook Children’s and helped shape pediatric health care in Texas. He truly loved children and provided funding to endow the library. Thousands of patients benefit from the education and entertainment at the Bomar Library. In addition to fun books for all ages, the library offers puzzles and games for inpatients and their siblings to check out. Therapy dogs also visit to sit with the readers and to make the experience even more enjoyable.

“This library is very special and is run by volunteers for the most part,” said Ashley, who manages the volunteers. “They catalogue and take carts filled with books to the floor for patients to check out directly from their rooms.”

When receiving a new diagnosis, clinical staff sometimes recognize the need for families to have more information. Cook Children’s Medical Center is one of the first in Texas to integrate the consult service into medical records. Ashley said they saw the way Child Life requests visits electronically and realized the opportunity to do the same with library consults. Once clinical staff request a consult in the medical record, Ashley takes information to the patient’s room, sends it through the patient portal or mails it to their home address.

“It’s a great way to get consumer information delivered to the bedside for inpatients,” Ashley said.

Bomar Library

Cook Children's Bomar Library is located inside the Child Life Zone (CLZ). The library offers books for all ages that are available to all inpatients and their siblings for check-out.

Families may also request a health information packet prepared just for them by sending an email to Family.library@cookchildrens.org or download a Free health care notebook..

Focusing On Health Literacy   
Ashley said the importance of health literacy has been realized worldwide due to the pandemic.

“As soon as COVID-19 started spreading, we all got the opportunity to see what patient families go through when encountering a new disease and understanding how to keep everyone safe while navigating new and sometimes changing information. Just like with the pandemic, patient families have better experiences and outcomes if we are providing them with clear and accessible messages.”

Consistency is key according to Ashley. Her goal is to ensure all families receive the same information whether they are going to the clinic in Fort Worth or Willow Park.

“The same quality care for every child is so important,” Ashley said. “The information families receive makes a difference in how well they are able to take care of their child.”

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Library Hours

Cook Children's librarians are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.  To speak to a librarian, call 682-885-3060 or click here to find health information. 

Schwarz Health Sciences Library

Location: In basement of medical center between the South Tower and main building
Hours: Employees have 24/7 badge access.

Matustik Family Health Library

Location: Near the LEGO® model across from the Dodson Specialty Clinics  
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bomar Library

Location: Inside the Child Life Zone  
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.