ALA Member
Item Number
ALA Editions
AP Categories
Read a sample of this book now!
1.73 MB • pdf • Download

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both Members and non-Members. 

If you are Tax-Exempt, please verify that your account is currently set up as exempt before placing your order, as our new fulfillment center will need current documentation. Learn how to verify here.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

The bibliotherapy-informed practices, programs, and events outlined in this guide will help librarians support the mental health and personal growth of their patrons.

Bibliotherapy can be defined as the use of guided reading for therapeutic ends. And though you might not be a licensed mental health professional, you can—and do, even without knowing it—support mental health and personal growth by connecting patrons to books that heal. Regardless of your previous experience or existing skills, this guide will empower you to make “shelf help” a part of your library's relationship with its community. Drawing on Reading for Recovery, the authors' own Carnegie-Whitney grant-funded project, this guide 

  • begins with an overview of bibliotherapy, including its concepts and history, and sketches out how its various approaches can be adapted for library settings;
  • explores the potential of bibliotherapy as an add-on to existing skills, services, practices, and collections;
  • demonstrates how bibliotherapy-inspired initiatives can address the needs of diverse communities, thus advancing libraries' commitment to EDISJ;
  • offers techniques for selecting reading material for your audience with bibliotherapy in mind;
  • provides a range of possible programs, from group discussions and public events to book displays and reading lists, along with a step-by-step approach to planning and implementing them;
  • shares outreach tips, tools, and branding ideas to make the most of your resources and effectively reach your audience;
  • demonstrates how to use assessment tools to test and tweak your program at every stage to achieve the results you want; and
  • inspires you to take your offerings into new directions, such as creative writing and visual art programs, that fit your library and community.


Part I        Getting Acquainted
Chapter 1    Bibliotherapy: An Overview
Chapter 2    A Brief History of Bibliotherapy

Part II        Turning Inward
Chapter 3    Bibliotherapy in Your Library
Chapter 4    Passive and Active Programming
Chapter 5    Know Thy Audience

Part III    Getting to Work
Chapter 6    Selecting Reading Material
Chapter 7    Setting Up Bibliotherapy-Infused Programs
Chapter 8    Hosting a Large Event

Part IV    Turning Outward
Chapter 9    Traditional Marketing 
Chapter 10    Social Media Marketing
Chapter 11    Improving and Sustaining Your Program

Epilogue    New Directions: Looking Forward

  • Appendix A    Program Template
  • Appendix B    Discussion Guide Template
  • Appendix C    Event Planning Template
  • Appendix D    Event Playbook Template
  • Appendix E    Marketing Templates

About the Authors and Contributors

Judit H. Ward

Judit H. Ward is a Science Librarian at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. In addition to providing reference, teaching library research, and hosting outreach programs, she promotes reading for mental health and wellness. In her previous position as the Director of Information Services at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies she developed “Reading for Recovery,” a bibliotherapy-inspired tool for people grappling with addiction as the recipient of an ALA Carnegie-Whitney Award in 2014. She has presented her research and practice related to guided reading from the librarian’s perspective both nationally and internationally. She is the author or co-author of over 150 articles and seven books, including two bibliotherapy readers in her native Hungarian. She received her MLIS from Rutgers, after earning a PhD in Linguistics and an MA in English and Hungarian Literature and Linguistics from the University of Debrecen, Hungary.

Nicholas A. Allred

Nicholas A. Allred is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT. He holds an M.St. in English from Oxford University and a PhD in Literatures in English from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. His scholarly writing has appeared in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and the edited collection Scholarly Milton. While at Rutgers, he collaborated extensively with the Center of Alcohol Studies and Rutgers University Libraries on bibliotherapy-inspired projects and initiatives, including “Reading for Recovery”––a guided reading tool for people with addictions developed with funding from the ALA Carnegie-Whitney Award. He is currently at work on his first academic monograph, on connections between the prehistory of addiction and conceptions of fictional character in eighteenth-century British culture.

"This guide can help the 'accidental bibliotherapist' (librarian) assist their patrons in finding resources. Additionally, it acts as a hands-on guide to creating bibliography-themed programs in readers’ libraries, complete with checklists and social media and marketing tips ... Highly recommended for professional or staff collections in academic, public, school, and all libraries."
— School Library Journal (starred review)

"Would be extremely useful to libraries looking to promote bibliotherapy. Provides models, a history, templates for getting started in your library, programming ideas, and more.”
— Teen Librarian Toolbox

"Offers practical and innovative ways to move collections, readers' advisory, and programming towards better meeting the needs of patrons, no matter their current involvement in bibliotherapeutic practices ... There are thoughtful discussions about respect, diversity, and language choices, plus helpful conversation prompts. The back matter offers a treasure trove of templates. Designed to meet libraries wherever they are, this realistic guide offers fresh ideas for starting, bolstering, or extending existing bibliotherapy efforts and belongs in most library school and professional development collections."
— Booklist

"Pleasurable and satisfying ... Highly recommended as a guidebook for librarians and information professionals."
— Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists News

"Readers will likely appreciate the practical discussions about planning, programming, and marketing, as well as the five templates included in the appendixes (program, discussion guide, event planning, event playbook, and marketing) ... This handbook will be most useful for special, public, and academic librarians supporting self-help, health care, counseling, and social work programs."
— Library Journal