Books and moreHow library reading services improve wellbeing

“My life changed the day I was referred to the Reading for Wellbeing programme.”


Customer, Gateshead Libraries

After suffering the loss of a loved one during the pandemic, Ian found it difficult to leave the house. Gateshead’s Community Links service referred him to a Reading for Wellbeing programme that was running at his local library.

This is Ian’s story.

Libraries offer ways for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the health benefits of reading. 

You can get free books in print and digital formats, join a local book group and, in some places, get books delivered to your home.

Map of libraries and services

Find your local public library

Why try the library?

A customer in a wheelchair reads a book in a library.

Books in many formats

Your library can help you find titles in large print, e-book and audiobook formats

A man and a woman laugh together as they take part in a book group at a library.

Join a book group

Book groups help you gather with others and learn about new authors - in person or online

A home delivery library worker shows a customer information on a tablet. They are sitting on the sofa in the customer's home.

Reserve and renew from home

Go online or call your library to order, reserve and renew your books

“Getting my library books delivered has been an absolute lifeline - I don’t know what I would have done without it.”


Customer, Bradford Libraries

Four ways libraries bring stories to more people

Libraries work to make sure as many people as possible can enjoy the pleasure of a good story.

  1. Shared reading

    For people less able to read books on their own, some libraries run shared reading groups, where you can read aloud together. Carers and family members can come along too. 

    For example, York Explore’s Reading Together programme invites people to read aloud and listen to stories. There are breaks for cups of tea.

    “This approach means people with additional needs, like visual impairments or dementia, can get involved,” explains Reader Development Librarian, Wendy Kent. “There’s no commitment to reading between meetings. And they still get to gather with people and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits.”

  2. Audiobooks

    Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy a book without reading it, and you can get them for free through your library.  Dorothy, from Tyne & Wear, loves how audiobooks let her take part in a book group.

    “I’m blind, so I got the audiobooks. Different books educate you and broaden your thinking. And discussing them with people gives you different perspectives,” she says.

  3. Home delivery

    Joan, in Bradford, benefits from having library books delivered to her home. “I’m almost 90 years old, so I’m not able to get about as much these days,” she explains. “Getting my library books delivered has been an absolute lifeline - I don’t know what I would have done without it.”

    Joan also benefits from titles chosen for her by library staff. “Since Covid, the books have been chosen for us, and I’ve been amazed at how well they choose books for me. They can look back at what I’ve borrowed previously and judge what to pick for me. It’s been wonderful!”

  4. Virtual book groups

    Dorothy takes part in her book group on Zoom. “Since the pandemic the buses have all changed, and it’s hard for me to get to the group in person. Being in a group has meant I’ve read books I wouldn’t have dreamed of reading!”

    If you’re interested in setting up a virtual book group, find your local library and ask the staff if they can help.