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 collections cover Mental Health, Autism, Dementia, 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, Frome, Minehead, Taunton, Wells and Yeovil.
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 large print books
- No overdue charges for children’s items borrowed on a child’s card for visually impaired children under 12
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.
Home Library Service
We work with the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) to provide a Home Library Service. The 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.
Books on Prescription
Books on Prescription (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, and a prescription allows non-members to join the library with no need for other identification. You do not need to have a prescription to borrow the books from this collection.
The Books on Prescription 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 Mental Health and 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.
Young People’s Mental Health: Bridgwater, Burnham, Chard, Cheddar, Crewkerne, Frome, Langport, Martock, Minehead, Priorswood, Shepton Mallet, Somerton, Street, Taunton, Wellington, Wells, Williton, Wincanton, Yeovil
Children’s Mental Health: Bridgwater, Burnham, Chard, Cheddar, Crewkerne, Dulverton, Frome, Glastonbury, Ilminster, Langport, Martock, Minehead, Shepton Mallet, Street, Taunton, Wellington, Wells, Williton, Wincanton, Yeovil.
Dementia Collection: Bridgwater, Burnham, Chard, Frome, Minehead, Street, Taunton, Wellington, Wells, Wincanton, Yeovil.
Men's Wellbeing Collection
Men’s Wellbeing Collection
The Men’s Wellbeing Collection is a joint project between Somerset Libraries and Public Health to help address poor mental health amongst men. The collection is made up of 20 titles, which either directly address mental health difficulties or aim to indirectly help through the therapeutic benefits of reading. The titles in the collection were chosen with the help of the Somerset Boys and Men Health Network, and all have been picked because they explore mental health in an easy and accessible way. We have also included a list of useful online resources such as e-zines, podcasts and websites.
There are 4 collections that rotate around our libraries every few months. All titles can be requested for free from any Somerset Library or by visiting www.librarieswest.org.uk .
Titles in this collection are free to request
How not to be a boy – Robert Webb – Male roles and expectations – Biography
Help – Simon Amstell – Anxiety, Depression – Biography
Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions – Russell Brand – Addiction recovery – Biography
Thinking out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad – Rio Ferdinand – Bereavement, Single Parenting – Biography
Boys Don’t cry: Why I hid my depression and why men need to talk about their mental health – Tim Grayburn – Depression, Male roles – Biography
Blue: A memoir – John Sutherland – Depression, Nervous Breakdown, Career burnout – Biography
My Son’s Not Rainman: One Man, One Autistic Boy, A Million Adventures – John Williams – Parenting, disability – Biography
Let me be Frank – Frank Bruno – Bipolar, Bereavement – Biography
The Happy Depressive: In Pursuit of Personal and Political Happiness – Alistair Campbell – Mental wellbeing, theory of happiness – Non fiction
The Descent of Man – Greyson Perry – Masculinity – Non fiction
Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman – Importance of developing emotional intelligence – Non fiction
Who stole my spear – Tim Samuels – Modern man – Non fiction
The Things you can see only when you slow down: How to be calm in a busy world – Haemin Sunim – Work-life balance – Non fiction
Mort – Terry Pratchet – General mood boosting – Fiction
A Man Called Ove – Frederik Blackman – General mood boosting – Fiction
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho – Self-discovery – Fiction
Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger – Boys growing up – Fiction
The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick – Recovering from mental illness, relationships – Fiction
The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer – Mental Illness – Fiction
Online Resources: E-zines, Podcasts, Websites
Calmzine – Men’s mental wellbeing e-zine published by CALM www.thecalmzone.net
The Man Manual – Series of free publications on keeping healthy from the Men’s Health Forum. issuu.com/menshealthforum
Men’s Health Magazine – Best selling men’s health magazine. Available for free to library members www.rbdigital.com/somerset
Movember Podcast – Inspiring personal stories from men www.movember.com/news/radio
Bryony Gordon’s Mad World – Podcast exploring why feeling weird is the most normal thing in the world.
Mental Health Foundation – Range of mental health podcasts including interviews and ‘How to’ guides. www.mentalhealth.org.uk/podcasts-and-videos
Mind – Mental health advice including helpline, blog and local support www.mind.org.uk
Rethink Mental Illness – Advice for mental illness including helpline and webchat www.rethink.org
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.