Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wellness #42: Staying Well

© 2007 Jupiterimages
Sometimes, even when you live a green lifestyle, eat the right foods, and exercise daily, you still need the help of a health professional to stay well. The Internet has many websites that can help you diagnose your symptoms, locate a healthcare professional, manage your medications, and keep track of your medical history.

© 2007 Jupiterimages
Use the "Symptom Checker" from the Mayo Clinic to discover the most common causes of the most common symptoms. It can give you an idea for simple self-treatment, or it can help you work with your health care professional for an accurate diagnosis of more serious problems.

This National Library of Medicine website helps you find local resources for health-related issues. Select an area from the map shown to search for health services and topics.

Drugs.com provides free, accurate and independent advice on more than 24,000 prescription drug

© 2007 Jupiterimages
s, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. Its many useful features include:
pill identification to help you identify that stray pill found in your child's backpack or in your bathroom drawer;
a drug interaction checker that lets you input the list of medications you take, and alerts you to any possible dangerous interactions.

My Family Health Portrait is a web-based tool provided by the U.S. Surgeon General. Information you provide creates a drawing of your family tree and a chart of your family health history.

A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of important information that you maintain about your health or the health of someone you’re caring for, such as a parent or a child. MyPHR.com gives details about what should be included, and suggests free or fee-based resources that help you create a PHR in print form, using the Internet, or using specialized software.


  1. Try out the symptom checker or the pill identifier. Write in general terms about how accurate the results seemed to be.
  2. Pick any medical condition or service and use the local MedlinePlus to see if there are related resources within 10 miles of your home. List what you found.
  3. Create a sample family medical history tree. Discuss how this could this be a useful addition to a genealogy study.

HCPL Staff:

Have you completed all five posts in this module? Then Submit your Registration of Completion

This post was brought to you by Nancy Agafitei (CC).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wellness #41 - Going Green - Part 2

Green Transportation

© 2007 Jupiterimages

Using less gasoline is not only good for the environment, with oil prices reaching all time highs, it has become a necessity for most of us. If buying a smaller car or hybrid or using more public transportation isn't an option, Consumer Reports has tips on getting the best gas mileage with the car you own.

Consumer Reports Mileage Tips

The Green Home

© 2007 Jupiterimages

Making your home more energy efficient will save you money and will also help the environment. The city of Houston has set up a web site with 5 easy low cost changes you can make, and a calculator to measure how much energy you can save by making these changes.

Consumer Reports has more suggestions on this website.

Many of the ingredients in our cleaning products are harmful to our health and the health of the planet. A few smaller companies have been making earth friendly products for years but now some of the major companies like Clorox and S.C. Johnson have begun selling natural cleaners. If you want to save money and guarantee less toxic cleaners, this website has recipes for making your own with common household ingredients:

DIYlife.com has more DIY projects.


© 2007 Jupiterimages
The Internet Consumer Recycling Guide has links for recycling almost anything you can think of from common items such as paper and glass to computer parts and hazardous materials.

A simple way to de-clutter your life and have less recycling is to sign up to stop junk mail including credit card offers, local business flyers and sweepstakes letters. This can be done here.

Activity 3: From any of the other sites above, list one activity in your blog that you think would be quite easy to do to live a greener lifestyle. List a second that would take more commitment, but that you really would like to try.

This post was brought to you by Kathy Knox (ADM).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wellness #41: Going Green - Part 1

You've probably been hearing a lot about going green the last few years. It's practically impossible to pick up a magazine or newspaper and not read something about climate change or global warming. If that isn't enough, skyrocketing oil prices and poor air quality are daily reminders of some of the challenges we face as individuals and as part of the global community. Going green doesn't necessarily mean you have to make major lifestyle changes or spend a lot of money. The Internet has many websites with tips on simple changes you can make, many of which will save you money. There will be two posts this week, since this is such a big topic.

Let's first look at some energy calculators. These are sometimes called carbon footprint calculators because they measure how much carbon dioxide you create.

National Wildlife Federation

Yahoo! Green

The Green Team

Activity 1: Use one of more of the websites to determine your carbon footprint. Write some notes in your blog about your results.

Greening Our Diet

The choices we make about the food we eat are an important part of going green. Here is an eating green calculator that can tell you the effect some of your food choices have on your health and the health of the planet.

© 2007 Jupiterimages Corporation
Eating Green Calculator

FoodNews.org provides you with a list of 43 fruits and vegetables that are the best and worst in terms of pesticide residue so you can know which ones to avoid when organic isn't available.

Not only is eating locally grown foods good for the local economy, it's also good for the environment because less fuel is expended to transport it. Also, it usually tastes better because it's fresher. Here are links to some of the many farmer's markets in our area:

Houston Farmers Market

Local Harvest

Urban Harvest

Activity 2: If you have ever visited a local farmer's market, blog about the experience and what foods you found there. If you haven't, select one for a future visit from the websites above, and blog about why you chose that one to visit.

This post was brought to you by Kathy Knox (ADM).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wellness #40: Fitness

Lumpini Joggers
Lumpini Joggers,
originally uploaded by rutthenut.

"Exercise?! What's in it for me?" This is something many of us may ask when physical fitness is mentioned. There are many proven health benefits for even moderate amounts of physical activity. For example, regular walking is good for your heart and helps prevent osteoporosis. You can even exercise while sitting at your desk!

Here are a few health benefits of exercise and physical activity from the website of the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Georgia State University:
  • Reduce the risk of premature death

  • Reduce the risk of developing and/or dying from heart disease

  • Reduce high blood pressure or the risk of developing high blood pressure

  • Reduce high cholesterol or the risk of developing high cholesterol

  • Reduce the risk of developing colon cancer and breast cancer

  • Reduce the risk of developing diabetes

  • Reduce or maintain body weight or body fat

  • Build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints

  • Reduce depression and anxiety

  • Improve psychological well-being

  • Enhance work, recreation, and sports performance
"OK, so how do I get started?" you may be asking. Never fear, the Internet is here with helpful websites on how to start and stick with an exercise program.

The Mayo Clinic offers 5 steps to getting started on a fitness program from assessing your fitness level to monitoring your progress.

Familydoctor.org discusses how to start and stick with an exercise program. It touches upon target heart rate and injury prevention.

This helpful site from primusweb discusses how to think F.I.T. and stay motivated.

Treadmill Talk
Treadmill Talk,
originally uploaded by sirwiseowl.

The Walking Site offers information on how to begin a fitness walking program. Start out slow and easy.

Exercise at your desk! This DIY site offers links on how to get a workout while at work.

Exercise Prescription on the Net is a free resource for the fitness enthusiast, coach or fitness professional.


Take a look at the fitness calculators on ExRx.net.

1. Check your BMI

2. Calculate your calorie requirements

3. Answer a questionnaire to determine your health age or life expectancy.

Were you surprised by the results? Do you feel motivated to change your eating habits or implement an exercise routine after completing these activities? Write a blog post about your goals after finding out your results.

This post was brought to you by Mark Haywood (ALD).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wellness #39: Nutrition

Everyone would like to eat healthier, exercise more, live in tune with the environment, and take better care of their health. However, most of us need encouragement to adopt such lifestyle changes. The Internet is full of resources that can make it easier for people to personalize a wellness plan. These posts are intended to inspire you to make positive changes. If you complete the exercises for these four posts, we hope you will be on a path to greater wellness. You will also receive 2 hours of training credit.

Let's begin with what many of us like to do most: EAT. Check out these two sites that help you look closer at the nutritional value of what you eat:

NutritionData.com examines multiple aspects of the foods you eat and drink, ranging from the components of a family recipe to the fast food you picked up on your lunch hour. The Pantry feature lets you save and analyze your favorites and tracks your personal consumption. You have to register, but use is free. Make sure to enter only required data, and opt-out on any extras you don't want.

Recipes.Sparkpeople.com lets you calculate the nutritional information of a recipe by searching for and adding ingredients, specifying their quantities, entering the the total number of servings that your recipe makes, and clicking the "Calculate Info" button.


1) Spend some time exploring Nutrition Data, and write in your blog about features you would find useful. Include something surprising that you learned about the food you have been eating. For example, you may guess that your favorite fast food burger is high in fat and calories, but did you also know that it is also rated as "strongly inflammatory"?

2) Enter a favorite recipe into Recipes.Sparkpeople.com, and calculate its nutritional information. Post the recipe on your blog, along with its nutrition facts. If your recipe is high calorie, experiment with substituting lighter ingredients and see how the bottom line changes.

The iHCPL Wellness posts are brought to you by Nancy Agafitei (CC), Mark Haywood (ALD) and Kathy Knox (ADM).