Couple Walking Together

Our mission

PlaneTree Health Library guides the public to accurate, trustworthy, and free health and medical information. We believe that informed patients are able to partner more effectively with their health care professionals. Being informed and aware also empowers people to take better care of their own health, the health of their loved ones, and the health of their communities.

The links on our website and our online collection pages are chosen by our librarians from the most trustworthy not-for-profit sources, curated to provide accurate and appropriate patient and consumer health information. Our online resources have a special focus on the health care concerns of people in our local communities (Santa Clara County / Silicon Valley, California) but many are universally relevant. All of the information on our websites is free of charge (no paywalls) and accessible 24/7.

Our Online collections include information on aging well and concerns of later life (Common Issues in Later Life, Caregiving, and Later Life Planning); on planning and advocating for good health care (Emergencies and Your Health and on COVID-19 Information for the Bay Area); and advice for Better Communication With  Health Care Professionals); and on detecting spin and bias in health news stories and on interpreting research reports (Evaluating Health Information).

Planetree Health Library is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and is not affiliated with any health care company. We appreciate your trust in us as an independent resource for reliable health and medical information. Planetree Health Library has never charged the public for our services; instead they are funded by community members who value the information it makes available. Please help support our work by making a tax-deductible donation and/or by participating in the AmazonSmile program.

Our commitment to our communities in the South Bay:

Our history

The roots of PlaneTree Health Library in the South Bay are with the international Planetree Alliance, which first began in San Francisco in the late 1970’s. Planetree’s patient-centered, patient-empowering approach to care was a maverick idea at that time, and our PlaneTree Health Library was the second public, patient-focused library affiliated with the Alliance. Initially sponsored by San Jose Medical Center, its doors opened in San José in 1989.  Library collections were housed in a lovely Eastlake Victorian near downtown San José. Invaluable health information and compassionate, personalized assistance was offered in Spanish and Vietnamese as well as English.

PlaneTree Health Library became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit, relying on community support since 2007. A 2008 grant from the California State Library funded an initial partnership with the Santa Clara County Library District.

Since 2017, however, PlaneTree Health Library has been fully online, in order to meet people where they go for health questions.

Our first home in San Jose

Our library’s first home in San Jose, CA

PlaneTree Health Library today

Information services have changed drastically in the last three decades. When PlaneTree Health Library first opened in 1989, patients and consumers had limited access to health information — today’s biggest challenge is to identify the best health information within a flood of online search results. In 2017 our Board of Directors decided to build an all-online library, where expert librarians collect the most trustworthy, accurate, and free-to-view links and arrange them in the most patient-friendly way to meet the needs of people in our communities.

These PlaneTree Health Library online collections are available at no charge, 24/7 to those who need them:

Later Life Guides:

Guides on Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Families:

Who We Are

Our Board of Directors and staff are:

Chair, Board of Directors

M. Michelle Hogan

Treasurer, Board of Directors

Fred Schulenberg

Secretary, Board of Directors

Ailsa Barrett

Director and founder

Candace Ford Gray, MLS


Mallory A. Olsen, MLS

PlaneTree Health Library Staff:

Executive Director

Lise M. Dyckman, MA, MLIS, CHIS

Communications Coordinator

Bella Hung

Our name

Planetree Leaves

European relatives of American sycamore trees are called plane trees. In ancient Greece, the father of Western medicine would take his students outside on pleasant days to study under the shade of one. To honor Hippocrates and nature’s healing influence, founder Angelica Thieriot named the organization “Planetree.”