My experience as a living book

Last week I had my first experience as a living book in the first living library ever organised in Banská Bystrica. Before going in the details, perhaps it would be better to explain briefly what a living library is.

A living library is a meeting among books (people who want to share their stories) and readers (people who want to listen to those stories), moderated by a librarian. During the meeting, that can concern a specific topic or not, the books tell their stories and the readers listen. Of course it is not a monologue, as the readers can ask questions and say what they think.

179668_10200724467813294_2112817710_nThe living library I took part to was organised by Amnesty International. It took place on Friday 22 February in the school Gymnázium Andreja Sládkoviča and it mostly tackled the topic of LGBT. During the meeting there were 3 books and about 30 readers among the students of the school.

On this occasion I decided to address the issue of homophobia by telling the story of a friend of mine who is still fighting against this form of prejudice.

I really enjoyed this experience for many reasons. First of all, I had the opportunity to speak about a topic which is for me extremely important and quite controversial. Discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transexual people is a big problem in my country, but I have the impression that also in Slovakia there is a long way to go. In my opinion to win this battle, the members of the communities directly concerned should not fight alone, as also the rest of the society has to be involved.

Secondly, I was happy to meet the other books. It is a shame that I couldn’t “read” them properly, but I hope we’ll have other opportunities 🙂

Last but not least, I had the opportunity to make a lot of practise with my Slovak. Sometimes I guess it was a bit hard to understand me (one of the “readers” told me that I have a Russian accent 🙂 ), as sometimes I don’t use the correct word. The funniest moment was when I wanted to say that somebody had been beaten, which in Slovak is zbiť, but I ended up saying that he was killed, in Slovak zabiť 🙂 How 1 single letter can change the whole meaning!

I was really happy to chat with the students, even though I would have been even happier to have a longer discussion with them to know what they think and how they perceive this topic.

So thanks Zuzana, Juraj and Rado from Amnesty International for this great experience!

Click here to see more pictures


5 thoughts on “My experience as a living book

  1. Manu, thank you for this nice post, and for explaining basic concept of Living Library. It is a pitty that the basic “rules of reading” on the bacground of the appended photo are not good visible. I just have to correct you a bit: This living library by far was not the first one organized in our city. For quite long, living libraries have been already organized in our city by our centre (especially by our colleague Viktor) and probably also by other organizations. I also participated on a couple of them, and at least one of our ex-EVS volunteers did as well.

  2. Thanks for the correction Andy. I think I received the wrong information. I’m even happier if living libraries already have a long history as, as I said in my post, I think that they are really beneficial both for the books and the readers.

    • I think living libraries really are excellent tool for human rights education, for they enable readers to listen to first-hand stories they might otherwise have difficult access to (they are not usually shared in common conversations) but also they bring recognition and appreciation to the books whoose “heavy burden” thus becomes something valuable and beneficial for others.

  3. Pingback: On May 17 our first movie night on LGBTI | EVS in CVČ-JUNIOR

  4. Pingback: 17. mája bude náš prvý filmový večer na tému LGBTI | EVS in CVČ-JUNIOR

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