Opinion

The healing power of books and libraries

Libraries are a profound resource that can use bibliotherapy to support people with fragile mental health, writes John Duffy

As one of the bibliotherapists who started the Kirklees project supported by Ann Cleeves and referred to in your editorial (The Guardian view on book therapy: an old idea finds new life, 4 September), I endorse what you and Ann say about the effectiveness of such schemes. I previously had a long career in social and community work, and felt I was most useful as a bibliotherapist.

What we learned is that there is no book or author that you can say with certainty is going to help with a particular issue such as depression or anxiety. People’s responses to the same poem, story or author are as varied as human beings are. What is needed is a wide variety of books brought to people by reading enthusiasts, and that means workers based in libraries.

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