Health and wellbeing support at libraries

Find support for autism, dementia and mental health in some of our libraries.

Reading Well books

Reading Well is a national scheme delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with Libraries Connected, endorsed by professional health bodies.

Reading Well books are recommended by health professionals to help people to understand and manage their health and wellbeing using self-help reading.

How it works

Books can be recommended by a health professional from the relevant Reading Well list:

  • Reading Well for children
  • Reading Well for mental health
  • Reading Well for dementia
  • Reading Well for young people’s mental health
  • Reading Well for long term conditions

For more information on the Reading Well website.

You can also choose a book from your local library without a professional recommendation. The books can be borrowed and requested free of charge.

Where you can find the collections

You can search for your local library to see if they stock a collection.

Search for your local library

Regular activities that can boost your health, wellbeing and happiness.

Certain libraries offer:

  • reading groups
  • author talks
  • craft groups chess clubs English café mornings Knit and Natter sessions Dungeons and Dragons

Autism support

Our Library Service works with the National Autistic Society to offer a specialist collection of books which aim to support and inspire autistic people and their families. The collections are called 'Autism? Your questions answered'. You can request books and resources in this collection from any library in Westmorland and Furness and they are open to everyone.

The books and resources are highly recommended as being the best available by experts and professionals. Individuals and families with first-hand experience of autism who read them have found them to be useful, practical, helpful and relevant.

Our book collections cover a wide range of topics, including diagnosis, sensory differences, anxiety, sleep and social skills. The books are relevant to people on the autism spectrum and others who would just like to know more.

Autism friendly spaces

The library is a place for all members of the community. Library staff are happy to welcome and assist you. The library service is committed to offering all staff up to date Autism awareness training.

Sensory spaces and sensory bags

Many of our libraries have sensory spaces, activities and quiet times. A dedicated sensory room is available at Barrow Library. Ask your library for details. Our sensory bags are specially created bags around the themes of:

  • lights and colours
  • music and sounds
  • touch and feel

A selection of sensory items and resources and are available to borrow and use at home.

Social stories

Social stories have been created to help you when you are visiting a library.  They describe what you can expect when you visit the library, including where things are located and what kinds of items you can borrow. Reading this social story before a visit can help you feel more comfortable and confident about your visit. If you still have questions about visiting the library, please contact us.  Check your local library page to view their social story.

Where you can find this support

You can find 'Autism? Your questions answered' in the following libraries:

Dementia support

Research has shown that taking part in activities based on the interests and abilities of a person with dementia can significantly improve their well-being and quality of life.

We now have a number of Dementia Resource Bags available for loan, and these are aimed for use at home with individuals or family members affected by dementia to promote reminiscence or discussions.

Each of the 6 main libraries in Westmorland and Furness has a of themed bags which include topics such as 'Gardening', 'Growing Up' 'Holidays', 'The Royals', 'Local Sports' and 'School Days'.

Where you can request and borrow the bags

You can borrow the bags for up to three weeks at at time, free of charge from the following libraries: