Launceston’s Living Library: Would you like to read Edward??

“Living Libraries is a national strategy for connecting and strengthening communities through conversation” (Living Libraries Australia)

My friends Edward and Noel Broomhall are part of the committee who run the Launceston branch of the Living Library. Ever since they told me about it over Christmas I’ve been fascinated and curious to read a “living book”. A living book is a person who has a story to tell, and who has volunteered to be part of a living library, where visitors can come in, check them out for 30 minutes, and engage in a conversation with them about that story. Its an initiative to bring communities together, to capture an oral history, and to offer people opportunities to talk about potentially difficult subjects in a safe environment. Its aims include: to recognise and celebrate diversity and to inform and educate community members. The book titles and descriptions are inviting and intriguing:

LIVING A VIBRANT OLD AGE - Former teacher, principal and administrator; an active 74 year old heavily involved in a voluntary retiree group; a bee-keeper (a productive hobby) … definitely not just killing time.

STOP! POLICE! - Being a cop is not just about busting down doors and locking up the crooks, eating donuts and drinking coffee. Being a police officer is challenging, weird, demanding, confusing, stressful, funny, sad, easy, hard and occasionally rewarding. And that’s on a good day! Most of the time nobody wants anything to do with you, that is until something goes wrong …

NOT THE ONLY GAY IN THE VILLAGE - Can a bloke who has a beard down to his chest, drives a 4WD, smokes cigars & chops his own wood be gay? This is my world folks, in fact it’s the world of many men in the villages of Tasmania, & though ya wouldn’t want to pick a fight with me … sometimes, I don’t feel safe in the village.

MY LIFE AS AN OUTSIDER - Many people struggle, and do things that they normally wouldn’t do to be accepted into the in-crowd, while others don’t seem to mind at all and are perfectly happy with their social status.

WHAT DO POETS DO? – Poets do not live in garrets. They do not suffer for their art, wear wide brimmed floppy hats or black capes. They simply see things that others may miss.

LIVING A MONASTICAL LIFE - How does it feel to be a Coptic priest, living a monastical life in Launceston?

Isn’t this a wonderful example of community literacy practices that redefines or reimagines the concept of libraries, books, and reading. I love it, and I can’t wait to go and “read” Edward!

One Response

  1. This concept and strategy is a fantastic one and I wish more students, in fact, everyone would take advantage of the ‘living’ who have interesting, often hidden stories to tell.

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