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All libraries in Portsmouth offer a range of books and resources for adults, carers and children that aim to help people improve their health and wellbeing.

Portsmouth libraries aren’t operating under normal opening hours at the moment – please check our library service coronavirus information page before visiting.

If you need further information on any of the services listed here please contact Pat Garrett 023 9268 8259 or email

Information for Health Enquiry Service

The Information for Health Enquiry Service helps you find up to date and accurate information on a health condition you have been diagnosed with.

There’s a confusing array of health information online and it’s very difficult to find health resources that are trustworthy, so we will recommend books and reputable websites that can help you manage and understand your condition. If there are any local support groups or condition. If there are any local support groups or charities that can offer practical and emotional help then we will also find them for you. We’re working in partnership with the librarians at the Queen Alexandra Hospital Library so have access to the latest medical journals and research.

If you would like to arrange a telephone or Zoom appointment call Pat Garrett 023 9268 8259 or Jacqueline Garrard 023 92688049. Alternatively email .

Cancer information and support

Portsmouth Library Service offers support to people affected by cancer. If your life has been affected in any way by cancer, you will find support and Macmillan Cancer Support booklets in the Wellbeing Zone on the first floor of Central Library.

Macmillan Champions are also based at Central, North End, Cosham and Southsea Libraries to signpost you to sources of support in the community such as support groups, counselling and befriending schemes. Simply pop into your local library and ask to speak to the Supervisor to make an appointment.

If you need help finding financial information such as applying for benefits or asking about your rights at work then call 0344 847 7727 for an appointment to speak to a Macmillan Advisor.

Reading well books on prescription

Reading Well Books on Prescription helps people manage their mental wellbeing using self-help reading. The scheme is a list of 37 self-help titles endorsed by health professionals, aimed at people suffering from mild to moderate mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, social phobia and stress.

A book can be ‘prescribed’ by your GP or another health professional, although most people choose to read a book on the list without a prescription. These books are available in Portsmouth Libraries for loan, and if the title you want isn’t on the shelf you can reserve it for free.

Reading well mood-boosting books

The Reading Well Mood-Boosting Books scheme is a national promotion of uplifting novels, non-fiction and poetry selected by readers.

Reading is known to have many health-boosting properties including reducing stress, improving memory and providing relaxation and enjoyment. The current list of 25 titles has been recommended by individuals and reading groups from around the country. There is also a list of books recommended for people diagnosed with cancer compiled in conjunction with Macmillan Cancer Support.

All mood-boosting books are available in Portsmouth libraries.

Reading well Shelf Help

The Reading well Shelf Help books have been chosen by young people and health experts to help you with difficult feelings and experiences that can affect your wellbeing. The books have information and advice, as well as personal stories, about dealing with feelings such as anxiety, depression or stress and experiences such as bullying or self-harm.

You’ll find them at Central, Southsea, Beddow, Alderman Lacey, Cosham and North End libraries.

Reading well for children

Reading Well for children is a collection of books that have been chosen to support children’s mental health and wellbeing. The booklist is targeted at children in Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11), but includes titles aimed at a wide range of reading levels to support less confident readers. The books are available to borrow from all our libraries.

Reading well for people with long-term conditions

This collection of books is helpful if you have, or are caring for someone, with a long term physical health condition. The collection covers illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, chronic pain, fatigue, arthritis, bowel conditions and breathing difficulties. The list of 28 titles is available in Central, Southsea, Beddow, Alderman Lacey, Carnegie, North End and Cosham libraries.

Dementia support

You will find the Memory Collection at Central Library.

This selection of resources has been chosen for people with dementia, and their carers. These resources help to keep people with dementia occupied and stimulated and are free to borrow. The collection contains books, games, puzzles, DVDs and sensory material. A full list of items available in the Memory Collection can be downloaded using the link at the bottom of the page.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription for Dementia Collection recommends books you might find helpful if you have dementia or are caring for someone with Dementia. The list of 25 dementia titles has been selected by health professionals and is available in Central, Southsea, Beddow, North End and Cosham libraries.

Reminiscence boxes

A collection of reminiscence boxes is available to borrow from Portsmouth Central Library to support reminiscence activity. Reminiscence is commonly used to support the mental well-being of older people, those with dementia, patients with brain injuries and those suffering from depression or social isolation. It achieves this by recalling memories and events from the person’s life.

Reminiscence boxes contain a mixture of artefacts, books and photographs, as well as guidelines for running reminiscence sessions. The boxes are useful to those involved in the care of older people such as carers and care workers, day centres and care homes to help people enjoy remembering the past.

View the list of reminiscence boxes available

Home library service

If you’re of limited mobility and unable to get to a library then we can come to you. We have a team of approved volunteers who will select books according to your reading preferences and deliver them to you on a monthly basis. We have books in large print as well as audio books.

For an initial chat please call 023 9268 8057 or email

Library services for the visually impaired

Portsmouth city libraries offer a wide range of services to anyone who is visually impaired. All libraries stock large print and talking books, including free to download e-audio books available via OneClickDigital.

  • Large print and audio books can be reserved for free by visually impaired customers
  • Talking Newspaper Service (TNAUK) available on MP3 download  to listen to a wide range of weekly or monthly newspapers and magazines at home
  • Braille services include transcription service, Braille tuition, Kurzweil text to Braille translator and Braille printer.

Reading groups for the visually impaired

Our reading group for visually impaired readers meets once a month at Central Library on a Thursday at 2pm.

The entire group listens to the same book using MP3 technology then meet to discuss the book. Use your own MP3 device or we will lend one of ours.

Visually impaired drop-in and phone advice line

On Thursday mornings, 10am to 12 noon, Central Library hosts a social drop-in. Join us for chat, coffee, book talk and games.

The Visual Impairment Officer is Julie Duffy – contact her for help and advice on any aspect of vision impairment by phone on 023 9282 9923 or email