Bibliotherapy in a Library Setting: Reaching out to Vulnerable Youth

Natalia Tukhareli

Abstract


Bibliotherapy, as a part of expressive therapy, involves the systematic use of books to help people cope with mental, physical, emotional, or social problems. It has been widely recognized as an approach that holds great promise in helping librarians to better address emotional, behavioural and socials concerns of various groups of people. The benefits of bibliotherapeutic services such as reading groups, expanded readers’ advisory, books-on-prescription and information-on-prescription services as well as various outreach programs are well documented in the library literature. On the other hand, health professionals who work in cooperation with educators and librarians share medical records on the healing and consoling power of books. The paper will explore the role of bibliotherapy in a library setting and identify particular bibliotherapeutic schemes to be used when serving people affected by HIV/AIDS. The paper will provide an overview of the library project developed to address educational and recreational needs of the African people living with HIV/AIDS. The project was successfully implemented at the Nkosi’s Haven Library in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010. Although the project targeted all the residents of Nkosi’s Haven, the paper will focus mostly on the part of the program developed for children and young adults. The paper will identify psychological and social factors that affect the targeted group of children within the African environment. Particularly, it will highlight a negative effect that stigmatization around the disease has on the lives of the HIV-infected individuals and their families. Within this context, bibliotherapy is seen as an effective way of reaching out and breaking the isolation of people, especially children living with HIV/AIDS. The paper will describe specific activities strategically chosen for the bibliotherapy sessions to provide a channel through which the participants of the program could analyze their behaviours or situations and address their concerns. It will also provide a list of books selected for the targeted group of children and young adults. The paper will highlight the great potential of bibliotherapy in addressing the needs of vulnerable people and thus justify the importance of implementing bibliotherapy within the library setting.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v6i1.1402

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Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research (ISSN: 1911-9593)