Libraries as therapy

Library as therapy to help empower local residents and improve their wellbeing.

Name of project: Empower Yourself, Empower the World

The challenge 

Three local libraries in Vaidava, Vecate and Rencēni from three different administrative rural territories of Valmiera municipality in Latvia are working together with the local community to empower them to address a huge increase in depression, fear and loneliness following the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been exacerbated by anxieties over the war in Ukraine.

The initiative

The three libraries and their local communities are co-developing a wellbeing therapy programme to help empower local residents and improve their wellbeing. The challenge team has introduced an initiative that incorporates three different group therapies – art therapy, dance therapy and bibliotherapy – which are available to the three village communities involved in the challenge.

Before launching their initiative, the library and local community started a discussion based around the question ‘Why is a Library Needed’? They found that local residents perceived the library as a community centre and appreciated the activities offered by the libraries.

The residents of the three communities worked together with experts and shared their newly acquired skills. Through the initiative, they have improved their critical thinking, creativity and communication skills and have acquired empowerment techniques to help themselves and to share with others.

What’s next?

The challenge team’s ambition is to share their prototype to help establish a sustainable network of therapeutic libraries across Latvia and beyond.

They would like to attract more funding to help expand the group therapies in their own region for a wider range of people of different ages and interests, as well as increasing the number of libraries involved. They would also like to popularise the therapeutic library concept to help attract more visitors to events and classes – and help to boost the profile of the library at both a local and wider level.

The challenge team said: “When the local village library challenge has become a Europe Challenge, it has turned into a really inspiring adventure.”

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