In the last two decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in bibliotherapy (BT) in the library field. Driven by a genuine belief in the healing power of reading, librarians may be unaware of the undesirable side effects of improperly administered BT. Associated with the library practice of readers’ advisory (RA), BT still remains a distinct field, requiring specialized knowledge, training, and expertise, which librarians often lack. This does not mean, however, that librarians cannot practice BT under any circumstances. They can receive specialized training or become expert partners on multi-professional BT teams.
This bibliography looks into a brief history of BT in libraries, helps librarians distinguish different types of BT, highlights differences between BT and RA, demonstrates successful examples of BT involving librarians, and introduces certification requirements for librarians practicing BT in the US and Canada. This bibliography is aimed at practicing librarians, especially readers’ advisors, LIS scholars and students, and other professionals (e.g., nurses, social workers, counselors) seeking librarians’ expertise and collaboration on BT projects.
Our approach is guided by the following beliefs:
- Every book, not only non-fiction and literary, classical, and psychological fiction, can be therapeutic; hence, in the fiction section, we review not only so-called mainstream fiction but also genre fiction;
- Therapy is not in the book but in the discussion that ensues;
- Librarians without specialized training should engage in BT only as part of multi-diciplinary teams; the most effective BT can be delivered when librarians collaborate with therapists (social workers, psychologists, doctors, etc.)
For the purposes of a brief overview of BT, its usefulness and limitations, read two articles by Keren Dali originally published in the Novelist (EBSCO) RA News:
On Dangers of Reading. “If you think that reading is good for you, think again…”
On Bibliotherapy. “What is Bibliotheraphy? Librarians may think of BT as a type of RA but it is, in fact, a very distinct practice…”
This project is funded by a Carnegie-Whitney Award from the American Library Association.
This bibliography is created by Dr. Keren Dali and other members of the team: Skye Corey, Alexandra Kwan, Lindsay McNiff, Polina Vendrova, and Brandon Weigel.
Please note that as of January 2016 this site is neither updated nor added to. We will add new book covers though when we receive publishers’ permission. We will also check and update the links every six months.
This website contains information and reviews compiled and written by librarians and library scholars who are not licensed therapists or health care professionals. No information on this website should be used as a substitute for medical advice or as guidance for diagnosing or treating an illness or a medical condition. This website is intended for library and information practitioners for educational and informational purposes only. We assume no responsibility for the misuse or misinterpretation of information on this website or for any negative consequences thereof.