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  Library Services at ESH

August 31, 1843
Document authorizing the purchase of books, periodicals, musical instruments, and other means of amusement for the first  Patients' Library.


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Our Patients' Library is the oldest library of its kind in a public psychiatric hospital.  The purchase authorization from the Court of Directors places the library's founding date exactly: August 31, 1843. Dr. John Galt was one of the earliest to write about what we now call bibliotherapy.  In a lecture (later published) entitled "On Reading, Recreation, and Amusements for the Insane," presented at the American Psychiatric Association's 1848 meeting, Dr. Galt noted the therapeutic value of reading in the treatment of mental illness.  As "The Bibliography of Insanity" illustrates, he also advocated the establishment of medical libraries at psychiatric hospitals.  Eastern State's medical library was housed in Dr. Galt's home during his superintendency, and fragments survive at Colonial Williamsburg's foundation library.  Both of Dr. Galt's libraries continue to this day.

The Patients' Library offers a variety of services for patients and staff.  Both patients and staff can check out books.  Patrons can also find materials for everyone's reading pleasure - everything from learning-to-read materials to an extensive collection of large print materials for persons with visual problems.  The library subscribes to over 125 periodicals and newspapers.  The computer center is a popular spot at the library. Both patients and staff can learn basic computer skills through the self-tutorials on the computers.  The libraries are a terrific resource for employees who must plan programs for in-service presentations.  

Whether you are looking for information on a specific medication or brushing up on you library skills, a friendly librarian is always willing to help.  The libraries at Eastern State Hospital are committed to staying abreast of current library trends and  to continued quality service to our patrons.  LIBRARIES ARE RESOURCE-FULL.


Library Hours

7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.     Monday - Friday 

Circulation Policy

Patients' Library - All circulating materials are checked out for 1 week, 1 renewal with the exception of videocassettes and other materials marked special.  Current magazines and reference materials do not check out.


757-208-7323 (Patients' Library)

757-253-5457(Staff/Medical Library)