Bibliotherapy-informed practices, programs, and events

For Immediate Release
Tue, 11/07/2023


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing & Media

American Library Association


CHICAGO — 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, “The Librarian's Guide to Bibliotherapy,” published by ALA Editions, will empower you to make “shelf help” a part of your library's relationship with its community. Drawing on “Reading for Recovery,” authors Judit H. Ward and Nicholas A. Allred’s 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.

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.” 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. Allred is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. His scholarly writing has appeared in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and DrugsEighteenth-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.”

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library and information professionals worldwide. ALA Editions | Neal-Schuman publishes resources used by library and information professionals, scholars, students, and educators to improve programs and services, build on best practices, enhance pedagogy, share research, develop leadership, and promote advocacy. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a variety of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions | Neal-Schuman at