American Library Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling issued the following statement:
“The American Library Association anticipates that many Americans will turn to libraries for help in accessing enrollment information when open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace component of the Affordable Care Act begins on October 1, 2013.
“Our research shows that Americans regularly turn to their local libraries as a trusted resource for information regarding government initiatives and programs. A recent study showed that more than a third of library computer users (28 million people) use library computers and seek assistance from librarians for health and wellness issues, including learning about medical conditions, finding health care providers, and assessing health insurance options. A 2012 ALA study found that 97 percent of libraries reported assisting library patrons with applying for and accessing e-government services.
“The American Library Association and other groups are working to be sure librarians and the public are aware of information on the new law. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the federal agency responsible for the improvement of library services nationwide, and the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are working in partnership to make sure that libraries are aware of and able to connect patrons with the information and resources they will need. IMLS has also awarded a grant to OCLC’s WebJunction to provide training support for this effort.
“Just as our communities turn to libraries for help to learn about citizenship and passport requirements, use public access computers to get disaster relief information and obtain assistance with copyright and patent questions, we expect libraries will receive many inquiries from the public about the Affordable Care Act.
“Decisions about how libraries will respond to inquiries about the ACA will be made by local libraries. As always, libraries do not promote specific programs or points of view, but provide the public with balanced, unbiased access to information.”