LIBRARIES in Middlesbrough are offering “books on prescription” and reading groups as they join up to an initiative aimed at bringing libraries into the 21st century.

Middlesbrough Council is backing the national library scheme launched last month by the Society of Chief Librarians.

The scheme aims to offer health, reading, information and digital services in libraries across the country.

Alongside this, new initiatives will be launched in public libraries over the coming year like ‘Books on Prescription’ whereby GPs can provide prescriptions for patients with mild to moderate mental health conditions for specific self-help books.

It will also, for the first time, offer people mood boosting novels and poetry plus social reading activities like reading groups.

Jen Brittain, library services manager in Middlesbrough said: "Books on Prescription for adults have been available in Middlesbrough for a number of years.

“However being part of a national scheme raises the profile of the importance of books for everyone and this will be the first time that we have offered fiction and poetry as part of Books on Prescription. “In Middlesbrough through funding from the Primary Care Trusts we are launching a pilot scheme of Books on Prescription for children, which will be available over the coming months.”