Knowledge management and health

Blue Trunk Libraries


The material specifications for the initial installation of a Blue Trunk Library are minimal. It must be placed in clean premises that are accessible to all the district health staff, subject to some supervision to ensure that the collection remains as complete as possible.

For people unable to read or who are not familiar with the language version of the the Blue Trunk Library, it can be used to create simple educational material in the form of drawings, pictograms, pictures and diagrams. Health professionals in the field are best placed to translate and adapt theoretical knowledge to local conditions and to the culture of the populations with whom they deal.

One person responsible for each Blue Trunk Library

A person responsible for the Blue Trunk Library at the district level (BTL assistant) is chosen from among the district health staff. The person may be a physician, a nurse, a secretary or a health technician. The most important qualification is motivation. The person's main task is to ensure the upkeep of the collection, to publicize it and to make it available to the district health staff, while ensuring that it is properly looked after.

The BTL assistant remains in contact with the project coordinator at the national level, who is appointed by the Ministry of Health, and who is able to give support and advice. The actual integration of the project into the district's health activities depends on the BTL assistant: the Blue Trunk Library has to be accepted by the whole medical community as a genuine means of improving health services. The library belongs to the entire health community. The BTL assistant is trained by WHO librarians when the project is set up in the country.

Establishing a network with the help of the national coordinator

The Blue Trunk Libraries project starts in a country with the approval of the Ministry of Health, which appoints a national project coordinator. It is with the Coordinator that the WHO librarians establish a dialogue, with the cooperation of the Office of the WHO Representative.

The Coordinator acts as an adviser, passing on observations and experience. The Coordinator follows up and supports the project by visiting districts to organize workshops on medical and health information. If necessary, he/she serves as a link between the districts and the country's medical libraries to provide additional information to health professionals. The Coordinator assesses the project's relevance and success by gathering statistics and through regular discussions with the BTL assistants.

In order to establish a genuine network and a dialogue among the sites, a Blue Trunk Libraries bulletin (which may be no more than an information sheet) will be published in each country to gather and report the experiences of the project's partners. An intercountry edition of the bulletin will regroup all the experience and provide information on the project's progress in the different countries.