Digital Library Provides Extended Access for Veteran Patients

How creating access to a digital library, in lieu of a physical library, improved Veteran patient experience.

Dana Kear, Client Success Manager

Reading books is a long-recognized method to improve mental health & wellbeing. Books can enrich our lives, but could they have health benefits as well? Researchers at Yale studied recorded submissions of 5,635 participants in the Health and Retirement Study, a continuous study of people who were 50 years of age and older provided records on their reading habits from the start of the study. Researchers concluded that. “People who read books regularly had a 20% lower risk of dying over the next 12 years compared with people who weren’t readers or who read periodicals”1.

With this information in mind, we examined the recent remodel of one Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which ultimately resulted in the removal of the on-site library facility. While this may seem like an innocuous change, the resulting undesirable effect on the patient population was significant. The closure of a physical library left Veteran patients without accessibility to books, which provided relief and distraction from their situation in the hospital. Several Veterans found comfort in reading and used the books as a source of entertainment – the physical library closure obstructed patients from accessing this resource they had become accustomed to. 

The issue was raised to clinical staff at the VA Medical Center, who quickly began working with a VHA Recreational Therapist and the dedicated Get Well representative to find a solution. The group discovered a fantastic alternative –  a digital library, with no working hour restrictions. Project Gutenberg2, a renowned digital library offering over 70,000 free eBooks, was added to the Get Well platform as an educational resource. This provided Veterans with a direct link to the site, enabling the patients to access a wide range of eBooks from the comfort of their own rooms.

The patient response to this addition was overwhelmingly positive. Veterans were thrilled with the convenience of accessing free eBooks through their TVs in their rooms. Not only does this provide them with much-needed reading material to replace the physical library, but the variety of content provided by this replacement has contributed to the overall well-being of the patients.

The solution provided by the clinical team, in partnership with Get Well, has improved the quality of the patient experience in such a significant way, multiple Veteran patients have provided testimony to our team: 

“It’s a wonderful option to have since there’s not a physical library onsite anymore.” 

Another remarked, “There’s a nice variety of books available on the site provided.”

The relatively simple solution of adding the digital library through Project Gutenberg has successfully enhanced the overall experience and satisfaction of the Veterans patients at this facility. Get Well is proud to enable the continuous improvement of quality care for Veteran patients with our VA Medical Center partners.

To learn more about Get Well’s solutions for Veteran care, visit our site: