Bibliotherapy and libraries

There are strong links between bibliotherapy and libraries. The concept of bibliotherapy dates back to 300 BC, when ancient civilisations placed inscriptions over library entrances stating that within the building was healing for the soul. The early connection to libraries is even traced to William Shakespeare’s tragedy Titus Andronicus, in which Titus says ‘Come and take choice of all my library, And so beguile they sorrow…’


Bibliotherapy in INCITE March 2015, volume 36, issue 3, pp. 24-25.

Beyond Blue – improving the wellbeing of older people

Great to see bibliotherapy recognised in the new Beyond Blue booklet showing what works to improve the wellbeing of older people.

Full booklet available here:

Full bibliotherapy paper available here:

Click to access Susan_McLaine.pdf

NSW Public Libraries conference Mudgee November 2014

NSW PL conference 2014

Me in the middle with Debbie Hicks from the UK’s Reading Agency (R) and Jan Richards Manager Central West Libraries  (L).

Thank you NSW PL conference committee for the opportunity to speak on ‘Books, Community and Wellbeing’

Conference highlight – meeting Debbie Hicks

NSW Public Libraries Conference 2014: Libraries & Community Wellbeing. Two full days of fabulous speakers and interesting presentations, including:

Debbie Hicks on Books on Prescription in the UK. Amazing work – over 7000 prescribing partners.

Bernard Salt on literacy and population

Jens Nordentoft with the four room model of public libraries in Denmark

Social media and community engagement by Mylee Joseph

Michael Caulfield – Australians at War – documenting personal stories

Tony Coggins asking can money buy happiness?

and another highlight – the Mudgee red wine …

Words That Heal at the Melbourne Writers Festival

MWF photo (2)At the 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival I was a guest speaker in the session ‘Words that Heal’ on bibliotherapy (the use of literature to help people deal with psychological, social and emotional problems). Writer and journalist Jane Sullivan chaired the 60-minute conversation between myself and writer/general practitioner Jacinta Halloran. I spoke on the background and uses of bibliotherapy including a psycho-social rehabilitation unit within the criminal justice area and with homeless and at risk people. I also spoke about a wellbeing focused bibliotherapy program I have developed in collaboration with a psychologist and general practitioner.

The session attracted much interest with 400 bookings and received some pleasing feedback.

Congratulations on your session at the Writers Festival. I really enjoyed your session on Friday morning, it was such an unexpected surprise – I had no idea that the session was on bibliotherapy & your amazing work. Every year I go to the festival & come across surprise gems – and your session was certainly that for me – so refreshing to hear and learn how you are using literature to work in transformative ways.

The possibilities of bibliotherapy resonate with so many, as people search for more meaningful ways to connect.