People lending

June 10, 2008 at 2:10 am 3 comments

This is just great. The Living Library. You borrow people not books. Yep, really. It’s an idea out of Scandinavia. Instead of borrowing a book, you can borrow a person for a 30 minute chat. An east London library has 26 “human books” available. The aim is to confront and breakdown stereotypes. You can “borrow” a Muslim; a police officer; a person suffering mental health issues; a gay guy; or a young person expelled from school.

So the stereotypes might be religious fanatic; corrupt; unstable; promiscuous; rebellious and so on. It’s about having frank and rich conversations with people and learning about different cultures or ways of living. It’s about the “borrower” offering up what misgivings or fears they might have of a stereotype and the “human book” responding.

Violence, hatred and racial issues often occur when there is misunderstanding, ignorance and cultural insensitivity. Listening to the narrative of another person who is entirely different from you is a powerful experience. The Living Library challenges preconceptions through promoting dialogue.

The Living Library was started by a Danish anti-violence campaigner, Ronni Abergel, who has taken the concept to 12 countries, including Australia where the Richmond-Tweed library seems to have embraced it with the slogan “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover”.

I wonder how the “human books” feel. I’d be worried I’d be left on the shelf with no-one interested in speaking to me!

If you’re interested in learning more about this concept, check out the Living Library Organizer’s Guide on Amazon.

Source: TimesOnline. Photo credit: The Christian Science Monitor.

Entry filed under: Information management, Knowledge Management, Librarians, Libraries, Narratives, Useful resources. Tags: .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Elizabeth Ryan  |  July 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Congratulations and warm wishes on this innovative concept! You’re an excellent example to people who believe our cultural and social standards are degenerating.

  • 2. Martin Etheridge  |  September 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I work for the Department for Communities and Local Government in England an am currently leading on a project to encourage wider roll-out of living libraries. They are starting to take off and we are planning a national conference in East London in early December. This will provide an opportunity for existing organisers – of which I have identified at least 30 dotted around the UK – to come together and share experiences. Watch this space ….

  • 3. Brian  |  April 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

    This a great idea and may it prosper to help all to understand all that we do together in the little time that we all have to make us have a better under standing of the planet which we all share


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