Bibliotherapy Programmes in Dublin Public Libraries


Hutchinson, E. (2014). Bibliotherapy programmes in Dublin public libraries: A case-study of Dublin city, Fingal and south Dublin public library services. Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries, special issue, (95-103).

Inspecting bibliotherapy uses and implementations in Dublin’s public libraries, Emma Hutchinson breaks down first the meaning of bibliotherapy and its need across Ireland.  Hutchinson interviews 400,000 people who are suffering from depression alone, explores how the programs were fashioned, and reports how they were perceived. Ultimately, the goal of the case study is to see how the program can “be developed and effectively implemented in a Dublin public library environment” (96). She also interviews two divisional librarians (human resources and marketing as their title), several senior librarians, health services librarians, and one psychologist.

The program consists of a prescription program where librarians partner with health professionals. Patrons become members of this program and no fines are issued on bibliotherapy materials. Some librarians also set up special displays to accommodate this program, but others feel this enhanced a field already rife with stigma and lessened the anonymity of the program. All of the professionals involved wish they had some sort of training in the realm of bibliotherapy, to better serve the patrons. The study also finds that the librarians wished the bibliotherapy umbrella covered more topics than just mental health and spanned the entirety of health issues, not only to include more people but to lessen the stigma associated with it. They suggest a forum for the professionals involved—a place to gather and trade information on what works—and making the entire program more successful.

This article’s findings solidify the importance of bibliotherapy’s further research and implementation. One of the most important items in this regard is having a community group for bibliotherapy, where the teachers, counselors, and parents jointly discuss with the progress of their students and children, how to make the best use of resources, and assess their success. One of the main ideas is also to ensure those involved with the “therapy” aspect of the program are trained with the basics of applying these books and helping those in need. Stepping out of the shadow of just “mental health” is key—the  program can address a variety of topics people deal with—and apply poetry and literature to them as salve, as a motivator, as a friend who has also dealt with similar situations.


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