Let’s not judge a book by its cover.
About the Living Library
The Living Library is a tool developed in a spirit of pluralism and social and cultural diversity with the aim of encouraging genuine encounters that stimulate reflection on stereotypes that often affect our relationships with others.
It works the same way as a traditional library: every reader has access to a catalogue of books that they can borrow for a limited period. In this case, however, the books are real people who have been confronted with prejudices and want to share some of their personal experiences in a 30-minute encounter with a reader.
What gave rise to the project?
The Living Library is a genuine tool for social change. It aims to draw attention to the issue of stereotypes that so often affect our relationships with others. Through dialogue and exchanges between people, this tool attempts to deconstruct social tags that are frequent factors in discrimination.
Recognised by the Council of Europe as a means of stimulating intercultural dialogue and fighting all forms of discrimination, it is an educational method that is part of a global movement, the international Human Library network (www.humanlibrary.org).
Who can participate as a Living Book?
Any person can participate if they have reached the age of majority and experienced prejudice in their daily life, if they are enthusiastic about participating and prepared to commit to the Living Library project.
What is the aim?
To contribute to the creation of a place for encounters and sharing between two or more individuals who do not know each other, to reappraise the value of diversity as a source of reciprocal enrichment and to encourage more critical reflection. The Living Library stimulates intercultural dialogue and humanises reading with its Living Books.
The readers who come to the Living Library have the opportunity to confront clichés and social labels behind which people hide from themselves or others.
How does it work?
The Living Library is open to everyone provided certain principles are respected:
A Book can only be borrowed once, for 30 minutes, before being returned to the Living Library;
The reader must return the Book in the psychological and physical condition in which the Book was borrowed. It is prohibited to damage the Book or offend its dignity in any way;
The reader accepts that the Book may break off the conversation if desired.
During a Living Library session, librarians are present to advise the reader on their choice of Book and ensure that the loan goes smoothly.
How is it organised?
Before a Living Library is set up, a series of individual meetings and a workshop are offered. The idea is to allow aspiring Living Books to work on the content of their story and the message it carries, train their storytelling techniques and skills for meeting with readers and to identify the stereotypes that collect around the experience they wish to participate in.
Who are the Books and how are they recruited?
The workshop is open to anyone who has reached the age of majority and been a victim of prejudice or subject to a form of discrimination, who is enthusiastic about participating in the project and joining the Living Library catalogue.
The workshop is available in French and Dutch, but all aspiring Living Books are welcome.