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Library awarded grant for breast cancer information

BENTONVILLE — In 2001, the Northwest Arkansas Cancer Registry reported that 116 women in Benton County were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Seventeen of them were from Bentonville.

Just over one-half of the population for both Benton County and Bentonville is female. Sixty-four percent of the females in Benton County and 43 percent of the females in Bentonville are 35 years of age or older, the age bracket in which breast cancer most frequently occurs in women.

The amount of information area residents can find on the disease in area libraries, however, is dated and in short supply.

Cindy Suter, director of the Bentonville Public Library, recently discovered that fact when a patron of the library, which serves residents of Bentonville and Benton County, asked for information on breast cancer. "I surveyed the area for breast cancer information, but I didn’t think there was enough current and relevant information," Suter said.

And she should know.

Suter has years of medical library experience, including stints as the director of the biomedical library of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.; council representative of the Medical Library Association’s Cancer Libraries; and senior member of the Medical Library Association’s Academy of Health Information Professionals.

After some research, Suter wrote a grant proposal to secure funding for a breast cancer collection, and recently got word that the proposal was accepted.

The Bentonville Public Library will receive $10,000 from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to create the Komen Collection — a thorough, consumerbased, breast cancer information resource freely available to the public.

Suter said the collection will include:

• Consumer materials;

• Medical texts;

• Spanish-language materials; and

• Materials geared for children and teens. "It will be a fairly comprehensive collection," she said.

Her research shows that no Spanish-language breast cancer materials exist in the Bentonville Public Library or other area libraries.

That same research shows that 69 percent of the breast cancer materials area libraries possess was published before 1998. That is significant because library standards recommend that the copyright date for medical collections not exceed five years because of advancements in that field.

While the library won’t get the money until January, Suter is already beginning the work of pulling the collection together. "I already have identified key materials (for the collection)," she said. "By April, the majority of the collection will be on the shelves."

The breast cancer collection grant proposal is the first that Suter had written, and its success has her thinking about future proposals. "It encourages me to write for more grants and think outside the box," she said.

Collections Suter is thinking about pursuing include:

• All the award-winning children’s books; and

• Additional health-care related collections.

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