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Catherine Morris
"People are always saying that book really cheered me up"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 July, 2000, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
'Novel remedy' for illness
Library
Books may be good for health
Librarians and doctors have joined forces to set up scheme which prescribes a course of novels for patients suffering from a range of illnesses.

Instead of relying on medication, GPs in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, will have the option of sending patients suffering from stress, depression and anxiety to local library.

The patients will be "referred" to a bibliotherapist, who will scour a database for suitable books.

The most likely titles to be "prescribed" will be thoses that act an inspiration to help the reader forget their troubles, or those that will cheer them up by making them laugh.

The 60,000 pilot scheme is being funded by the government, local health authority and a private libraries' charity.

Three bibliotherapists will be appointed by Kirklees Council. Part of their job will be to visit local health centres to encourage patients to join reading circles.

Catherine Morris
Librarian Catherine Morris pioneered the scheme

Catherine Morris, principal librarian for Kirklees libraries, said the scheme was not designed for people with very servere pyschiatric illnesses, but for people who suffered from mild anxiety or depression.

She told the BBC: "If you work in a library you know that people are coming in all the time and saying things like I read this book and it really cheered me up.

"On one occasion somebody came in and said, 'I really enjoyed this book because it was about somebody more miserable than I was'.

"The whole idea behind the project is that the bibliotherapist will talk to people on a one-to-one basis, find out what kind of things they normally like to read, why they are stressed or ill, and then prescribe them an individual list of books."

Ms Morris stressed that reading the books would be completely voluntary.

The six-month pilot scheme is due to begin at local health centres in September.

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