Monday, January 22, 2007

Health Promotion Board (Singapore) launches online catalogue search for its Health Library

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) Singapore has just made their Heath Information Centre's catalogue available online, at
HPB Health Information Centre

As stated on their website, the Health Information Centre (HIC) specialises in information on health education, health promotion and disease prevention. They have a collection of more than 20,000 books and journals, 10,000 audio-visual materials on health education and health promotion, and a collection of local and overseas pamphlets, booklets, and posters.

What I gather is that non-members are welcome to visit the library and browse through the collection, but you'd have to join as a member to borrow and make full use of the HIC services. Membership is open to "health professionals, health promotion facilitators who carry out health education and health promotion programmes and activities, students taking health-related courses and private health service providers". Their membership information here (last accessed 22 Jan 2007).

Let's see... I'll search for "back pain" 'cos that's what I experienced a few weeks ago.

There were 20 records found. Looking at the titles and a few of the item records, the materials seem quite relevant. Out of curiosity, I used the same search term at the NLB Catalogue and found 182 items. This is not to say one library is better than the other. HIC has a more specialised focus and a smaller membership base, which would reflect in a proportionately smaller collection.

By virtue that it's a library under the Health Promotion Board, I suspect most people would perceive that what they lack in terms of relative numbers (for collection), they would make up in terms of qualified subject experts. That's one positive selling point for the HIC.

I can't really comment on the cataloging standards (I'm not a cataloger) but they appear to be in order.

I like how the search terms are highlighted in bold and Red colour (although I wonder about the choice of using red, i.e. would people with colour-blindness be able to view the text properly?)

You can save and email selected records from your search results, so that's nice.
screenshot_HIC catalogue

In case you're wondering, similar features are available from the NLB catalogue "Advanced Search" option.
National Library Board Online Catalogue

screenshot_NLB Advanced search

screenshot_NLB Advanced search

Vanessa (who works for HPB) told a few of us to freely share our comments and ideas for this HIC service. OK, here's mine:
  1. HIC might want to consider a link to FAQs (of health-related questions) on the search results page. I think a user is likely to have more questions as they review their search results, so the FAQ might provided that additional context and resource to what they are looking for.
  2. If HIC is interested in receiving more enquiries and/ or promotion its collection and membership, a good way might be to include a "Contact Us" or "ASK our HIC Librarian" link on the search results page. As with the first suggestion, I think the probability of the user asking questions increases as they progress with the search.
  3. HIC could also link to the NLB's ASK! blog (from the Public Library), or specifically the Health & Fitness category of the ASK! blog. Users searching their site would appreciate the additional referral. I feel strongly that it's all about 'Context' from the user's point of view. Oh, I'm sure NLB can easily do a reciprocal link from the ASK! blog back to the HIC online catalogue.


  1. Anonymous11:49 pm

    saw the print screens for nlb catalogue search.

    had this question for some time in my mind. when the new Lee Kong Chian Reference Library was up, they had this really new and aesthetically-pleasing interface, but due to "requests"/"demands" from the "public" (misquotation - i dont remember very well), they changed back to the oudated interface.


    the "new" one worked pretty well, i was glad that i used it for several times before it got axed.

  2. You know something (Van should comment too), I have always enjoyed reading all the leaflets, booklets and pamphlets on the nutritional values, cholesterol levels and fat indices. From time immemorial, my mum who was a staff nurse specialising in diabetes, would bring back these leaflets and I would read them while having my meals. I still do nowadays, and my obsession have taken me as far as reading about the different types of diets out there like Atkins and Okinawa.

  3. vantan12:15 am

    Hi Wally, maybe I should pass you some of our materials next time we meet ;-)


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