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Community & Library

Community And Library

Our impact

Community and library shared reading groups demonstrate wide-ranging impacts: improved health, wellbeing and quality of life; learning, skills and employability; strong and safe communities through social participation; economic benefit and value for money.

The need

  • 1 in 5 older people in the community suffer depression
  • In 2011, 29% of households consisted of one person living alone [Office for National Statistics]
  • In October 2011 to September 2012, 38.7 per cent of adults reported using a library service in the last 12 months, a 10% decrease from 48.2 per cent in 2005/06 [‘Taking Part’, DCMS]

Our aims

  • To combat isolation and engage people from different and hard-to-reach backgrounds together
  • To encourage people to enjoy reading and discover how it benefits their wellbeing
  • To build strong, mutually supportive communities who read together
  • To provide enjoyable, welcoming and meaningful activities within the community, inspiring people to engage in other local and city-wide activities

“Since I've been attending the reading group, my self-esteem has soared. I've felt able to speak out and put my opinion across about a book we are reading, what is going on in a chapter and what I think about a particular character in the book. I've gained independence. I've always enjoyed reading and I'm enjoying it more being in a group situation. I think it's very important to have reading groups, as they help those who feel isolated make friends and feel integrated into society.” - shared reading group member, Wirral Libraries


Our community and library projects reach a wide range of people of all ages, reading abilities and backgrounds, improving wellbeing, increasing social engagement and widening cultural horizons. 

Since joining a shared reading group in the community:

  • 69% of members use their library more regularly
  • 76% feel more positive about life

“It’s like therapy, a nice way of doing it, in a library surrounded by nice people. I like walking back home after the sessions, noticing nature and children smiling.” – Library group member, Wirral

  • 81% enjoy the opportunity to develop relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds
  • 84% are more likely to share books with friends and family members (including children and grandchildren)
  • 92% get greater pleasure from books and poems

“I’ve never read poetry before because I’ve never understood it. I like the poetry but we also come because it’s a positive group and we can chat and be social as a couple. You can’t always do that.” – Tiverton carer, Library Memory Group, Devon

  • 95% enjoy meeting people whom they wouldn't usually meet in my day-to-day life

Our Delivery Partners and Funders:

Wirral: Forum Housing, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

London: Tri-borough Library Service, Barnet Libraries

South West: Devon Library Service

National: Leicestershire County Council

What else?

We host events and courses in communities to extend our reach and to provide more opportunities for members – younger and older – to enjoy reading together. See our events and courses pages for more details. 

Nadia's Reader Story, Toxteth Library

How can I find out more?

Our community and library groups are delivered in pockets across the UK: in several London boroughs, Liverpool, Wirral, South West, North Wales and North East (Newcastle) and East Midlands (Leicester). To find out if there is one in your area please a look at our group map.

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    Merseyside Community Theatre

    Merseyside Community Theatre Alt Valley 2010 (MCT) was conceived as a pioneering community engagement project that would introduce reading, literature, team work and performance to a community with a high level of social and economic disadvantage.

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    Wirral Community Shakespeare

    Wirral Community Shakespeare was conceived as an eight-month long reading project culminating in a run of free public performances of William Shakespeare’s The Winter's Tale over three nights in Birkenhead Park during August 2008. The play was to be performed and produced by a diverse and inter-generational cross-section of the community drawn from Get Into Reading groups and other agencies.

reader story


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The Reader Calderstones Mansion House Calderstones Park Liverpool L18 3JB



Registered charity number: 1126806 Registered company number: 0660 7389

If you have any suggestions on how we can enhance The Reader experience for you, please get in touch by filling out our quick form. Thank you.