CINCINNATI—A University of Cincinnati (UC)–founded health Web site has been awarded $421,000 in state funding to support operations in 2008.
The funding—from the State Library of Ohio and Ohio Public Library Information Network—will help sustain the $600,000 annual operational budget of NetWellness.org, a commercial-free, consumer health Web site produced by Ohio’s three medical research universities—UC, Case Western Reserve and Ohio State.
Launched in 1995 by UC’s Academic Information Technology and Libraries (AIT&L) department, NetWellness serves the growing number of people turning to the Internet for medical and health information.
Today, it is one of just a few health Web sites that remain commercial-free, ensuring that information is accurate and unbiased.
“Historically, there has been a strong connection between Ohio libraries and NetWellness,” explains Steve Marine, AIT&L’s executive director for development and outreach.
“The site was conceived and developed by AIT&L, but soon partnered with other Ohio public schools and libraries to overcome the ‘digital divide,’ or the gap between those who had Internet access and those who did not.
“Now, there’s a gap between those who have broadband access and those who don’t,” says Marine. “Every Ohio library system offers broadband services, so through their support of NetWellness we are helping more people obtain health-related information at higher rates than ever before.”
NetWellness contains roughly 53,000 pages of health information, attracting 15 million unique visitors each year. A major attraction is the “Ask an Expert” service, which allows site visitors to ask a health-related question to the more than 500 university faculty affiliated with the site.
There are 162 UC experts on the NetWellness question panel.
“NetWellness is a valuable, authoritative source of online medical information,” says Stephen Hedges, director of the Ohio Public Library Information Network. “Our users—both public librarians and the general public—always appreciate the clean, uncluttered presentation of health information, unburdened by advertising, and they trust that they are getting the right information because it comes from three of Ohio's best research universities.”
State librarian Jo Budler concurs.
“It’s imperative that people have access to authoritative health resources,” she says. “With the Internet, it has become easier for people to find information.
"NetWellness is that authoritative site that makes it easy for folks to find the information. Such a unique service deserves to be funded.”
NetWellness is also funded through various state and federal grants, and some corporate sponsorships. The site can be accessed at www.netwellness.org.