Libraries across West Norfolk are launching a new reading scheme today to help people suffering long term health conditions.
The Reading Well campaign, which provides health and wellbeing books, will have its official launch at Lynn Library this afternoon.
The scheme has recommended reading lists on specific topics relating to health – from diabetes to arthritis, and mental health to sleep problems.
Community librarian Alison Thorne said: “The idea is that people will go to their GP or health professional and they will be recommended to read a book about their condition.”
The national scheme, which will be available at all West Norfolk libraries, complements three existing schemes: Reading Well for common mental health conditions, dementia and shelf help for young people.
Norfolk County Council, which is backing the campaign, says that, on average, people living with long term conditions spend just four hours a year with a health professional and 8,756 hours self-managing.
The scheme and full reading list will be unveiled at Lynn Library today from 2pm to 4pm, which is open to everyone and includes the chance to find out more about it, browse the books and talk to partner organisations.
Representatives from Norfolk County Council’s library service, the Job Centre, Patient Participation Groups and various health organisations are expected to attend.
Ms Thorne said: “Part of my job is to go out and talk to GPs and tell them all about what the library has, and so patients know these books are all free to request.”
It is hoped that people will be able to find out more about these conditions in a discreet way.
“People can be almost embarrassed that they want help – but there is no need to feel embarrassed,” she said.
“People don’t even have to speak to library staff if they don’t want to.”
All libraries will have a selection of the recommended reading list of 28 books, all of which will be free to reserve.
Ms Thorne said: “If there is a book you want to read which is not available at the time, we will help request it for you.”
This afternoon there will also be free ‘breath, movement and sound relaxation’ sessions from 2.30pm to 3pm and 3.15pm to 3.45pm at the library.
Ms Thorne added: “Reading does make you a happier person – it makes you more relaxed.”
A leaflet which includes the booklist will also be available this week and copies will be given to health professionals so they can recommend helpful reading.
The scheme is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians – it is funded by Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust.