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Health Equity and UMKC's Health Sciences Library

This article is part of our Library Stories of Equity in Action series. These posts share how UMKC Libraries employees, departments, and teams are working toward change within our organization. See more of the Library Stories of Equity in Action series under News & Events on our Equity Initiatives page.


As a participant in the work of the UMKC Health Sciences District, we at the Health Sciences Library provide resources and research assistance to health sciences students, faculty, and staff as they work on community-centered projects that are a part of the Health Equity Institute. The projects aim to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities in the Kansas City area.

Despite commitments with participating in a Community Engagement in Education course and Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day, we saw that we had much room to grow if we wanted to truly partner in equity. We submitted a gift proposal to The Starr Field of Interest Fund, created to honor Martha Jane Phillips Starr, a Kansas City philanthropist and champion of women’s rights. The gift money, awarded as a new Health Equity Initiative, focused on assessing the library, expanding collections, funding Health Equity Fellowships, and providing training for library staff. 

A portion of the gift money awarded focused on assessing the library and its collections (books, journals, etc.). After evaluating our collection, extensive searching and asking for suggestions, we were able to spend around $16,000 of the gift money to add resources pertaining to equity – many specifically on health equity. You can see many of the books and other resources below in the carousal. To see a list of the books, eBooks and videos, download this spreadsheet.


During the month of October 2021, we had a book display with many of the newly acquired books at the UMKC Health Sciences Library.

A table displaying books and resources

Another portion of the gift money allowed Health Equity Fellows to survey library users on suggestions of how the library could aid in research in eliminating health inequities. We created a report from the survey for the UMKC Libraries to process ways that the Health Sciences Library could improve its partnership in research on health inequities. We also administered interviews with faculty members and focus groups of students and community members. In response to a few recommendations from the interviews, survey and focus groups, we updated a research guide on health equity research. We asked students and faculty members to test and give feedback, which we used to further improve the research guide. This research guide has information on what health equity is, why it is important to have equity in health, programs in Kansas City and nationally on health equity, blogs, articles, and more.

The home navigation page for the Health Equity Resources guide

As part of this project, we also created a resource guide for the UMKC School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. We worked again with a faculty member and the library’s graphic designer to publish a useful and aesthetically-pleasing resource guide with resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Home navigation page for the UMKC School of Medicine's diversity, equity, and inclusion research guide

Other research guides created under this initiative were:

With collaboration with staff, students, and faculty, books, and a research guide focused on equity, we at the UMKC Health Sciences Library hope that these practical items will continue to aid in decreasing health inequities and provide a framework for equity-focused actions in the future.

By: Casey Phillips, UMKC University Libraries Health Equity Fellow

Posted: November 15, 2021