We aim to provide accessible services for library members with special needs or disabilities. We also offer support and services for carers, foster carers, home educators and child minders.
Our specialist book collections cover mental health, autism, dementia, long-term conditions, adult literacy and learning English. If you have an accessibility issue not covered by these initiatives, please speak to library staff.
Most of our libraries have wheelchair access and we can also offer a ‘virtual tour’ of your library first, so that you can plan you visit.
Visit Our Libraries page for further information and to access our virtual tours.
Autism Friendly Libraries
We are an inclusive space that welcomes people with a range of additional needs, including autism. We also recognise that for those living with autism, visits to the library can be made more enjoyable through small adjustments. All our libraries are working towards ‘Autism Friendly Library’ status, so that our staff are trained in autism awareness and are actively making appropriate adjustments.
Sensory kits containing ear defenders for adults and children, fidget devices and sensory toys are available to use for free at the following libraries: Bridgwater, Burnham, Chard, Crewkerne, Frome, Ilminster, Martock, Minehead, North Petherton, Taunton, Watchet, Wellington, Wells and Yeovil. (Please note that there may be restrictions on borrowing these items during the Covid-19 pandemic)
We also have Social Stories to help with your visit. Please email your local library for a copy of their Social Story using the details provided here
Somerset Autism Collection
This pioneering collection was set up with the help of people living with autism, the National Autistic Society, Somerset Parent Carer Forum and other health and social care providers.
Some of the books are written by professionals with many years of experience working in the field of autism and others are written by autistic people and their families.
The collection includes fiction, non-fiction and biography. Titles explore a range of topics such as mental health, learning difficulties, relationships, supporting young people and autism in women.
There are five complete collections of books and DVDs in Bridgwater, Frome, Taunton, Yeovil and Williton libraries. Every library in Somerset carries a selection of books, and all titles from the collection are available to request free of charge from any Somerset library, or online at www.librarieswest.org.uk. Booklists are available at every Somerset library.
Visual impairment and dyslexia
If you are blind, partially sighted or have other disabilities that affect reading such as dyslexia, we can amend your membership to give you access to these concessions:
- Free requests and loans of audiobooks
- Free requests for all books
- No overdue charges for children aged 17 and under
Please speak to staff at your local library about updating your membership.
For dyslexic adults, we just need a signature from a basic skills tutor, or a teacher certified by the British Dyslexia Association. For children with dyslexia, a signature from a teacher is required.
All library members can download e-audiobooks free of charge from Borrow Box.
‘Easy Read’ guides to using your local library are available to make visits easier if you have a learning disability. They can be requested at your local library or by emailing us on email@example.com
‘Bag Books’ are also available for those with severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities. The packs include props that allow stories to be told through voice and emotion rather than words and pictures. They can be requested for free by contacting your local Somerset Library. To find out more about how they work, visit www.bagbook.org
We welcome any feedback on other ways we can make your library visit easier and more enjoyable.
Home Library Service
The Home Library Service is available to anyone who is unable to visit their local library, specifically people who are housebound, living in long-term care, carers, or people who are vulnerable due to long-term conditions or disabilities. The service is open to people of all ages. You can also ask someone to register in the Good Neighbour scheme to access library services on your behalf.
Our wheelchair accessible Mobile Library vehicle provides access to our loan items in rural areas of Somerset with no local library. There are 152 stops serving 128 communities around the county.
Reading Well is a national scheme that helps people manage their own health and wellbeing through recommended self-help books selected by health professionals. These titles can be reserved free of charge.
The Reading Well schemes cover:
- Adult Mental Health
- Young People’s Mental Health (also known as Shelf Help)
- Children’s Mental Health
- Long Term Conditions
How can I access these collections?
Any book from these collections can be ordered from your nearest Somerset library for free or on www.librarieswest.org.uk . (Please note that some restrictions may apply due to Covid-19 related closures). If you would like to browse the collections in person you will find them in the following libraries (please note that collections vary in size according to the size of the library)
Adult Young People and Children’s Mental Health – all libraries
Long Term Conditions – Bridgwater, Burnham, Chard, Cheddar, Crewkerne, Frome, Glastonbury, Ilminster, Langport, Martock, Minehead, Priorswood, Shepton Mallet, Somerton, Street, Taunton, Wellington, Wells, Williton, Wincanton, Yeovil.
Dementia Collection – Bridgwater, Burnham, Chard, Frome, Minehead, Street, Taunton, Wellington, Wells, Wincanton, Yeovil.
Many titles can also be accessed for free as e-books and e-audiobooks. Find out how to access our e-resources
Carers, fosterers, home educators and childminders
If you have special caring responsibilities, you are entitled to an additional library card to support young people in your care.
Reading Well Mood-boosting books is a national promotion of uplifting titles, including novels, poetry and non-fiction. The books are all recommended by readers and reading groups.
You can browse the list on the Reading Well website, and request titles on the LibrariesWest website or at your local library.
Our staff can support you to find reliable health information, whether online or through books. Speak to a member of staff in your local library, or you can find out more about our support offer on our Digital and Health Information Support page.