Playing a Living Book in a Living Library

On Tuesday of this week, I participated in the Hart House’s Living Library series.

About Living Libraries

These are events that provide “borrowers” with the opportunity to check out living “books” for a short period of time. Participants, i.e. borrowers, read short descriptions of the stories that other participants, i.e. books, have decided to share. Then they sign up to check out, i.e. chat with, the books whose stories they want to hear. Once a book is checked out by a borrower, the two participants engage in a dialogue about the borrower’s interest and the book’s story.

Stories (also topics of conversation) can include:

  • experiences
  • stories
  • challenges
  • successes
  • beliefs
  • thoughts
  • projects

Takeaways

I really enjoyed learning new things about other participants, books and borrowers, and engaging in conversations with an incredibly interesting and diverse group of people. I rarely have the opportunity to talk to people who come from such diverse backgrounds, with such different experiences from my own.

The overall atmosphere was one of relaxed conversation. I was scheduled for specific check-out times, when borrowers had signed up to chat with me, but in the end I had just as many unscheduled conversations standing by the refreshments table, coffee mug in hand. Each conversation was considerably different than the others, which adds an element of surprise to the day.

For introverts, there were also short breaks in between conversations (and a lunch break) that allowed for moments of internal reflection (and/or simply not talking), which helped restore some of my energy.

The Living Library was a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend participating in one of these events, either as a book or as a borrower.

It’s kind of like reading an interactive book, only better.

I will definitely be looking out for more of these in the future. The Hart House website has information about future Living Library events.

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