Professor Sir Kenneth Calman KCB FRCP FRSE
Image: University of Glasgow

“Information fully understood, is a key part of care. Patients need such help to give clear consent to treatment and investigation. 
This project enables patients and families to grasp the essence of the issues and play a full part in the decision making process”.

Professor Nigel Sparrow OBE Senior National
 GP Advisor and Responsible Officer CQC
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“I am pleased to support the ‘Libraries and Health’ initiative. Health literacy is an important determinant of health. GPs have an essential role in supporting patients to develop health literacy skills in understanding and using health information.
 The ‘Libraries and Health’ initiative will be a helpful  resource for people in making the best use of resources, through increased understanding, confidence and skills to enable decision-making that is shared between doctors and patients”

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association
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“Health and social care are topics on which an endless wealth of literature has been written. The Libraries and Health partnership and the Patients Association share a common theme in striving to help patients, services users and their families make sense of the vast swathes of information on offer.

Libraries should act as community hubs of learning, as well as offering practical support in helping people understand the choices available to them regarding their health and well-being.”

Professor Dame Sarah Cowley 
Image: UNSW Sydney

“Now the commissioning of health visitors has returned to their former home within Local Government they are more fully aligned to the Education Service, so they will be well placed to encourage the “Health and Libraries” developments that are gradually emerging as a vital aspect of our Community Library Service. Health visitors have long valued the opportunities afforded by libraries for improving early speech and language development. They will have new opportunities to call on the support of Librarians and their staff to assist with Health, Literacy and Community Development aspects of health visiting Practice”

Judy Ling Wong CBE

“Health is now recognised as fundamentally linked to the quality of our local environment. Green spaces have featured highly, but any green element, such as trees, or simply good design is significant. Facilities such as seating for social interaction and rest for older people having time out, so that the high street is a social space, will impact both mental and physical health in a high street that is part of our daily life.”

Dr Clive Parkinson MMU
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This strategic Libraries and Health partnership is a critical resource for 21st Century communities and our re-imagining of health and well-being in the heart of the places we live and work.

 As hubs of learning – places of imagination – and as social condensers – we must support this initiative before libraries are relegated to history”

Beatrice Fraenkel MerseyCare NHS Foundation Trust
Image: NHS Merseycare Foundation Trust

“From a mental health perspective we have become increasingly aware of the very real fears our service users have around the uncertain future of libraries today. Many of our service users experience extreme and debilitating levels of social isolation and exclusion. 

In this context libraries become places of warmth, welcome, safety, access to information and support, and crucially gateways to much needed human interaction. 

 For this reason Mersey Care has recently acquired a Carnegie Library in Liverpool that was destined for closure. In 2016 we will reopen this building as a centre for recovery and social inclusion, promoting positive mental health and well-being for our service users and the wider community. A functioning library will remain at the heart of this innovation”

Dr Malcolm Rigler

“I see the most creative future for everyone involved in “arts and health” lies in the emerging “libraries and health” partnership developments that are now taking shape. In fact I am now completely convinced that the GP within the NHS has no enjoyable or creative future until the arts led “libraries and health” partnership work is understood, valued and firmly supported in every possible way by both GPs and Librarians  across the whole of the UK. Creative people are in a very strong  position to lead this much needed transformation of both GP practice and the Community Library Service’ 

What other people are saying about the Health and Libraries initiative

“I suspect that the importance of this project lies in the challenge that it presents to the crude bio-medical model. The patient is not a machine, however complex, and the physician is not a sophisticated mechanic. It is important for the patient, and indeed for the physician, to make sense of illness and disease, not merely as an assault upon a physical body, but as an experience that disrupts the way one lives and makes sense of one’s life. Illness, especially chronic illness, requires that we tell anew the story of who we are and who we want to be. Libraries are wonderful resources of the stories (factual and fictitious) with the help of which we can tell honest, insightful stories about our lives, especially in times of disruption and crisis. The more that this project can help to overcome the barriers that inhibit the spread of this vitally important understanding of health, and the more it makes the prescription of literature and information a routine part of the patient’s treatment, the more it will be realising its great potential”

Dr Andrew Edgar, Reader in Philosophy, School of English, Communitaction and Philosophy (ENCAP) Cardiff University

“Public Libraries have a pivotal role to play in the promotion of human health and creativity. The ‘Libraries and Health’ concept is a powerful vision that will ride out and perhaps help overcome the present constraints on library services”

Dr Langley Brown, Arts for Health Manchester Metropolitan University  

‘Public Health medicine, like personal medicine, has become obsessed with material science – environmental standards, infectious diseases, housing conditions, etc. While these are important the deeper problems we need to address are our societal values, the way we relate to one another, and the loss of community. Epigenetic science is now teaching us that lifestyle is much more than what we eat and how much exercise we do. Lifestyle includes our thoughts, feelings, stories and beliefs, which are shaping our gene expression in powerful ways. Chronic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer and neuro-degenerative diseases are a consequence of loneliness, individualism, competition, and the pursuit of material wealth rather than spiritual well-being. The cure is compassion, caring and community. Compassionate communities are a major public health issue. I welcome this initiative to support the role of libraries in the health of communities’

Dr Robin Youngson  Director , Hearts in Healthcare , New Zealand 

“The health service faces huge challenges as the elderly population increases and treatments improve. People are living longer, but often with multiple chronic diseases. For the NHS to meet these challenges new ways of working are required. One is a greater expectation that patients will self-care when that is reasonable and safe. A factor that supports self-care is co-location of new libraries with health centres which in itself offers a wide range of additional social and well-being benefits”

Dr Simon Abrams GP Lead Great Homer Street Surgery. Chairman Urgent Health UK. National Secretary Family Doctor Association

“Health and well being are central to the purpose of museums, and a growing body of research from the UK and overseas is demonstrating that cultural participation of the kind that museums offer can have a powerful impact on health outcomes”

David Anderson  Director General National Museum Wales.

“A library is a communal space, a “home” where knowledge is enjoyed. The idea of Libraries for Health, like all great ideas is obvious and simple. This is where we can add layers of caring and sharing. The offer of both enriching life through the pleasurable extension of knowledge and support for getting hold of the more difficult areas of knowledge, such as health, with partnerships that lead back to taking action within understanding, is crucial to enabling all of us to feel in charge of our lives. A local library is a place where people have connected with as children, all the way to the mature later stages of life. Unlocking the power of this context by adding a health layer to this anchor in our lives is a brilliant move”

Judy Ling Wong CBE Honorary President Black Environment Network (BEN)

“Public libraries and health have always gone together. I see many people who come into libraries with health issues and we are often the only ones that give them the information they need. In these difficult times, it makes sense for health services and public libraries to work together in order to bring down costs and to better serve the public. I love the new name for the combined library/theater/cinema in Chester “Story house” neatly combines the common elements of all three services that will be sharing the refurbished and expanded building. In fact, it seems to me that story house neatly sums up libraries more than most terms, on many levels. On the most basic grounds, there’s a ton of stories housed in a library. As I tell anyone, you can read about anything, be anyone, when you read a book from the library. Moving further, the users of the library tell many stories to the experienced eye. The student typing away using the wifi, the senior citizens catching up with each other, children hopping around in delight, the quiet figure searching for a job … they all tell stories, not least how good the library is. Further, the health or even presence of a library tells a story about the community which it serves. A bustling library, in a good quality building, filled with all kinds of people doing all kinds of things says wonderful things about the local neighbourhood”.

Ian Anstice, Public Library News.

“I very much welcome and support this libraries and health initiative as a contribution to enhance the quality of health and well-being for people and a practical way to help cope with the challenges of change. Libraries over the years have played a key role in helping to build and maintain strong social capital and resilient individuals and communities. Today we are seeing libraries, not just as places to find new books, but also as new community hubs where people can access a range of services such as housing and leisure facilities, as well as an extensive range of library amenities. These new community hubs –hubs of learning and centres of imagination- will be key assets in the implementation in Wales of the Bevan Commission’s first Prudent Health Care Principles of achieving health and well-being with the public, patients, and professionals as equal partners through co-production. The final set of four principles were endorsed by the Minister for Health and Social Services in 2015. All four Principles will require a high level of health literacy so that individuals have the capacity to obtain and understand basic health information to make appropriate health decisions, particularly engage in self care and chronic disease management. Libraries and Health can help make it happen for individual and community benefit”.

The Late Professor John Wyn Owen ( 1942 -2020 )

“We host a series of Community Art Workshops which focus on both our library and ceramic collections and are amazed by their popularity, how much Participants look forward to each visit and the positive outcomes of their making new friends and learning new skills. The benefits also extend to our staff and volunteers who really enjoy taking part and delivering the events, in addition the workshops trigger conversation and bring old memories to life that often enrich our understanding of the collections. We are delighted to be working with Dr Malcolm Rigler to develop our activities with the aim of creating a ‘Worcester Museum Arts, Education and Health Group’ that will pilot outreach projects in Doctors surgeries, create partnerships with Worcestershire Museums, Libraries and Primary Health Care Professionals and play a role in improving the health and well-being of patients, visitors and staff”

Amanda Savidge Museum Director Museum of Royal Worcester

“The Patients Association believes that patients and carers should be given the opportunity to be actively involved in decisions about their health and social care and treatment and need access to good information in the right format to do this. Libraries are ideally suited to providing this so we look forward to the development of this special interest group.  We are keen to work with public health departments, NHS Trusts, CCGs, primary care and local authorities on any specific projects to make this happen”

Heather Eardley former Director of Development The Patients Association

“Universal, free access libraries play a very significant role in health promotion because of their important contributions in the areas of education, communications and social cohesion. They also contribute substantially to the reduction of inequalities in health”

Dr Alex Scott-Samuel, Honorary Professor, Durham University; Visiting Professor, University of Chester; Honorary Senior Lecturer in Public Health, University of Liverpool. 

“The scale of local authority cuts means it will increasingly fall on town councils to fill gaps in services at local level. This is only viable through an innovative and collegial approach with other statutory, charity and voluntary organisations. Well-being is much more than a health and social services issue: it is a community issue. Libraries have always been a hub of our communities and their extended role as part of initiatives in health and well-being has never been more essential”

Ian Morrell 65 High Street Nailsea, North Somerset

“I have been having some very interesting conversations with Dr Malcolm Rigler. He and I believe that there is scope for greater partnership working between Public Librarians and Primary Health Care professionals”

Jacqueline Widdowson Library and Resource Centre Manager PMLG Chair

“Speaking as a Mersey Care Service User my educational Journey started as a child at Lodge Lane Library. Here I discovered Geology, Shakespeare, Classical Music, Polyhedric Systems, Poetry, Drama, Geography, Mathematics, Art and History. Lodge Lane Library laid the foundation for my two first class degrees in Architecture and a PhD. The Local Public Libraries need refreshing into the 21st Century and I fully support Mersey Care’s new step pace in that direction”

Dr Robert G MacDonald RIBA, Reader in Architecture LJMU

“It seems you have paved the way for a new area (of Public Policy)… I am planning to recommend this new policy area to my manager”

Vangelis Agrapidis, Researcher, Public Policy Exchange

“We are now in the Age of Information where the internet has opened up new ways to learn. However people still need face to face communication to help them make sense of the plethora of information that is available. Also, they need human connection to support their mental health and wellbeing. The Libraries and Health special interest group is an opportunity for Doctors, Pharmacists and Community Arts people to work together creatively with local communities”

Liz Stafford former external relations and policy development manager, Rowlands Pharmacy and Pharmacy Voice.