Libraries and carers
Your local library will welcome you, and the person you care for, and is a great place to find support and meet other people (as well as borrowing books).
The library may also be able to bring books to you at home if you struggle to leave the house.
Libraries are usually accessible and easy to get around if the person you care for uses a wheelchair or has other mobility issues. Toilets at libraries are also likely to be accessible and some libraries have Changing Places toilets.
Remember, you can borrow a lot more than just books from libraries, you can also borrow eBooks, audiobooks, DVDs and console games. Additionally, staff will be able to help you find large print or Braille copies of books.
Most libraries have computers and other IT equipment that you can use for free, and staff who can show you how to use them. Some libraries, particularly the bigger ones, have a wide range of facilities such as cafes and rooms for hire.
Library cards for carers
Libraries often have special library cards for carers. These usually let you borrow items for longer, avoid fines, and make requests for free.
There may be other library cards that suit you, and the person your care for, better. For example, your library may offer a library card for people who are in a care home.
Some library cards also offer discounts on attractions and local services. You need to live, work or be a student in an area to join the library. Contact your local library to see which library card would be best for you.
Borrowing books if you can’t visit a library
Home Library Service
Many libraries have a free Home Library Service which can deliver books and other items to you at home if you can’t visit a library and there is no one to collect them for you. You will be able to use the service if you can’t easily leave the house because of caring.
These services are usually run by volunteers who have been vetted and trained. They will talk to you about what you like to read. Then they will visit you at home and bring you some books that you might like. The volunteer will return to see you every few weeks at a time that suits you and replace your books. You will also be able to request books.
Check with your library about how to apply for your local Home Library Service.
Libraries also offer eBooks and eAudiobooks. This might be much easier for you as they can usually be downloaded straight from the library website for free.
If you live a long way from a library sometimes a mobile library may stop near you, particularly if you live somewhere remote. See if your local library service has a mobile library.
Social groups and activities at your library
Many libraries have rooms and communal spaces for local groups to meet. Check if there is a carers group, or if there is another group you might like to attend.
Lots of libraries also have information about local attractions, classes and workshops that you might be interested in. Many libraries are UK online centres and can help you get online.
Carer identification and recognition
Staff at libraries are often carer aware. They may have had training to help them recognise and support carers. For example, they are likely to know about local carer services.
Most libraries will be dementia friendly and staff will be able to support the person you care for if they have dementia, and you as their carer.
They may even offer specific dementia support such as reminiscences boxes and packs, and pictures to share books. Ask your local library how they support people living with dementia and their carers.
Safe places for vulnerable people
In some areas libraries are part of Safe Places. A safe place helps vulnerable people if they feel scared or at risk while they are out and about in the community and need support right away. See if your local library is taking part.
If you aren’t sure if there are any libraries near you search for local library services on Gov.uk to find out which local council provides them.
Date revised: 07/03/2019