Abstract Background: Book prescription schemes and healthy reading schemes place self-help books in public libraries to assist in the treatment of mild to moderate mental illness. Research has highlighted that library staff play an active role in the success of this initiative. Aims: To conduct a pilot study of the professional experiences of the library staff of Clare County Healthy Reading scheme as they deal with the therapeutic demands of the reading public. Method: A preliminary questionnaire was developed and distributed among the staff members. In total, 12 completed questionnaires were returned and analysed. Result: Despite their lack of training and support from statutory mental health services, library staff affirmed their belief in the benefits of healthy reading schemes. Library staff also maintained a clear understanding of their role as gatekeepers but not as therapeutic advisors to the reading public. Conclusion: Despite the serious restrictions to mental health services in Clare, library staff did not believe that their role was to 'fill in the gap' in terms of providing mental health assistance to the reading public.