In this article, guest writers from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Italy, the leading scientific technical body of the Italian National Health Service present a historic case study considering the role and evolution of the information specialists at their institution over a twenty year period. The paper places a particular emphasis on the initiatives undertaken in consumer health information and health literacy promotion, in order to improve public health in Italy. Areas covered include the development of online health information provision, early strategies to support the improvement of health literacy, and national projects and collaborations.. To read the full article, log in using your NHS Athens details. To access full-text: click “Log in/Register” (top right hand side). Click ‘Institutional Login’ then select 'OpenAthens Federation', then ‘NHS England’. Enter your Athens details to view the article.