Arts/Community - Living Library

'Borrow' someone fascinating and learn how they live their life at Young Art Kommunity's meaningful event tomorrow.

Kei Patrick is a young Wivenhoe resident volunteering with the Young Art Kommunity in his gap year. Inspired by an event he attended when visiting Oxford, Kei has organised a Living Library, which will run tomorrow, Saturday, June 24, from 10:00 to 17:00 at Firstsite.

In this library the books are living people, talking about their own life experience. 'Readers' can ask questions that are otherwise taboo, of people living very different life experiences to their own, secure in the knowledge that all 'Books' are volunteers and are prepared to decline any questions they are not comfortable with.

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Although not coming under its umbrella, the event is similar in intent to the Human Library project that began in Copenhagen, with the goal of challenging prejudice through one-to-one dialogue - it's a way of facilitating meaningful conversations between complete strangers. Kei, for example, says, at the Oxford event, keen to meet people in a city where he hardly knew anyone, he ended up having a real heart to heart with a 'Book' entitled 'My Motorbike & God'.

Tomorrow, Readers (visitors) will be able to take out 'Books' on a range of subjects. Titles include:

  • How I Became a Spy
  • Gay
  • White Boy in Jamaica
  • Case No. ECC24601XYZ
  • 40 Years a Volunteer
  • Modern Pagan
  • Italian Migrant
  • Depression: Out of Despair
  • The only black gay in the village

If that doesn't pique your interest I don't know what will!

Kei believes the Library is important because it is about human contact. "We need more of that, and more empathy. My idea is that this will be a place people can come to meet 'the other', then sit down and have a one-to-one with them. Everyone who tries it will be affected, and I hope we will help to build understanding. It's valuable for our society as a whole - and it's a very enjoyable experience - to learn how other people live their lives," he says.

In the light of recent events, we couldn't agree more. See you there.