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Working at PlaneTree Health Library: What we do

(recruitment for employment and volunteer positions currently open with PlaneTree Health Library)

PHL mission, values, target audience & populations served

Our current mission statement is:

PlaneTree Health Library guides the public to accurate, trustworthy, and free information.

We believe that informed patients are able to partner more effectively with their healthcare professionals. Being informed and aware also empowers people to take better care of their own health, the health of their loved ones, and the health of their communities.

Target audience region:

We aim to serve the health information needs of people in Silicon Valley, defined as primarily Santa Clara County but also stretching into neighboring counties in the south Bay Area, Peninsula, and (when the  issue warrants) Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

(In effect, though, as many of  the issues PHL covers are shared by other areas of California and the rest of the U.S., much of our information would be relevant outside our geographic scope. We embrace that universality; however, PHL’s work should reflect the health care priorities of the communities in our geographic area.)

Target audience - demographics:

In 2017, the Board of Directors decided that PHL would focus its online collections, program, and outreach on Later Life, which includes the areas of healthy aging and common issues in aging; caring for older adults and caregiver support;  and end of life care and advance care planning.

In addition we have 2 resource guides that address emergencies that greatly impact older adults and their caregivers (as well as people of all ages in Santa Clara County): on Coronavirus & COVID-19 pandemic and one Emergency preparedness for man-made and natural / climate disasters.

This document has more demographic details about the older adult population in Santa Clara County.

PHL websites

There are two separate domains for PHL:  = historically our main website. This is currently hosted on InMotion's servers, and maintained by our webmaster / contractor, Jamie Krakar. This is used or details about PHL (mission, history, donations, contact us, etc.), as a launching pad to connect to individual LibGuides, as the home for our community calendar, to make current & archival issues of PlaneTalk newsletter discoverable, and an RSS link to our social media accounts. = online library collections + more. These are hosted on Springshare's cloud server, and maintained through LibApps. Lise is admin; all staff will have an individual log on account.

Virtual library collections / curated collections of links

PHL's online library consists of topical websites of curated links to free & publicly available informational content, organized and displayed in ways that help the user to better understand the subject, and to be able to find what they need more efficiently or expeditiously. 

We use Springshare's LibGuides software to create our online library collections. It is part of Springshare's LibApps suite of products (we just have this one, and not the LibGuides CMS version).

To edit or manage content, first log into LibApps with your personal credentials. There are a couple of ways to do this:

  1. Use this URL, log in, then choose to use LibGuides (either from the center box, or using the Content tab at the top navigational bar).
  2. At the bottom of each webpage on the lower right corner is a link to "Log into LibApps". Once logged in, you go directly to the admin view of that specific content page.

Public LibGuides

At present these are our online libraries:

Later Life, divided into:

  • Later Life Guide - on common issues for seniors and geriatric patient and consumer health, written for the older adult as audience.
  • Caregiving Resources - on caregiving, written for the family care partner as audience.
  • Later Life Planning - on advance care planning and end-of-life decisions, written for the older adult, their family and loved ones as audience.

We also have online libraries for health emergencies:

  • Coronavirus and COVID-19 - on what Bay Area residents should do to stay healthy during this pandemic, including psychological and social supports.
  • Emergencies and Your Health  - emergency preparedness for climate disasters or other emergencies that may require evacuation or shelter-in-place, written for individuals in this region.

Since health information literacy is key to our work, we also have an online library on Evaluating health information and on critical thinking about health-related content.

We also have a LibGuide page to advertise our public programs, and to guide users to registration links for programs.

Private or Unpublished  LibGuides

LibGuide content - whole pages, or boxes within a page - can be visible or invisible to the public. 

For whole guides or whole pages within a guide, there are 3 status settings:

  • published = the most accessible (discoverable by a search engine, can be linked  / shared / forwarded  to anyone)
  • private = accessed only if someone shares its direct URL
  • unpublished = visible only to its creator, the PHL staff to whom the creator has explicitly granted editorial access, and to the account admin (Lise). This is used primarily for works-in-progress, sandboxes, and superseded LibGuides that still have some content re-used in a more recent LibGuide.

Currently, our private LibGuides are:

  • this one, and
  • Digital Inclusion for Older Adults in Santa Clara County, which contains references and supplementary content from the 2021 white paper published by the Seniors Digital Inclusion Working Group.

Email newsletter

PHL has had a newsletter from the start in 1989, entitled PlaneTalk. First distributed in print, for the last decade it has been online, distributed to subscribers' emails, currently using MailChimp. Like our library collections, its content primarily consists of links to content written by other sources. And like our online library, content focuses on actions that individuals can take (or take to consult with their healthcare team); its unofficial motto is "news you can use".

Currently it has roughly 10 issues per year, sent out mid-month (historically it combined the July-August and November-December issues). At present the format is semi-standardized into these sections:

  • [optional Director's message]
  • "Should I...?" for brief health topics, phrased as questions (like Jeopardy) [3-7 items]
  • In Depth, for a more extended discussion of a health topic [1-3 items]
  • COVID corner, to keep that material from dominating the newsletter entirely.
  • Boilerplate text on how to subscribe and how to donate to PHL.

Newsletter content is linked on our homepage (, both the current issue and back issues.

Community Calendar

Started in April 2021, this calendar is for free, open to the public, health-related events located in or of interest to people in the Bay Area. It's intended to advertise PHL's events, but even more to offer a virtual community bulletin board for other nonprofit organizations too (and as a way to build partnerships). Organizations can enter their own event details, subject to PHL staff approval (i.e., postings are moderated by us).

Public Programs

PHL staff (so far, just Lise) have been making presentations on various topics, both in partnership with other nonprofit organizations (eg., Sunnyvale Senior Center, AARP, Institute on Aging) and under PHL's own name. Details on the latter can be found on the Programs LibGuides page.

During the pandemic, these have all been conducted over Zoom. (PHL has an account through TechSoup, that allows for up to 100 participants. We have been calling these "webinars", but we do not - as yet - have a license for the webinar version of this software). Registration has been handled either a) by the host organization, or b) using the Registration function of our Zoom account.

The text on this page is copyright PlaneTree Health Library, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Linked contents are the responsibility of their creators or copyright holders.