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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 childminders.

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 in this list, please speak to library staff.

Accessibility

Most of our libraries have wheelchair access and we can also offer a ‘virtual tour’ of your library first, so that you can plan your 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 changes. All our libraries are working towards ‘Autism Friendly Library’ status, so that our staff are trained in autism awareness and can make appropriate adjustments.

Sensory kits for adults and children containing ear defenders, 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
  • Yeovil

You can plan your visit to your local library with a virtual tour, using the Our Libraries page.

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 on the Our libraries page.

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. Other books have been written by autistic people and their families.

The collection includes fiction, non-fiction and biography. Titles explore 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. All titles from the collection are available to request free of charge from any Somerset library, or online on the LibrariesWest website. 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.

Learning Disabilities

‘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 librariesmail@somerset.gov.uk

‘Bag Books’ are also available for those with severe or 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 the Bag Books website.

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.

Find out more about the Home Library Service.

Mobile library

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.

Find out more about the Mobile library.

Reading Well

Reading Well is a national scheme that helps people manage their own health and well-being 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
  • Dementia

Find out more information about Reading Well

How can I access these collections?

Any book from these collections can be ordered from your nearest Somerset library for free or on the LibrariesWest page. 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 e-resources on our Digital Books, Audiobooks and Magazines page.

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.

Mood-boosting books

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.

Health Information

Our staff can support you in finding 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.

Last reviewed: February 1, 2024 by Qi

Next review due: August 1, 2024

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