Living Libraries // Živé knižnice

Last Friday, I became more or less incidentally, but fortunately, a book in a living library. What does this actually mean though? Before I experienced it first-hand, I had no idea myself. A day before, our coordinator told me that the organizers of the Living Library were missing one book, and asked me if I was interested in becoming a substitute. As I had only faintly heard before that this concept was a strong tool in human rights education, I thought it was a good opportunity now to learn more about it. So the idea behind Living Libraries is the following: people act as book, they tell their story, others listen to it, and after some time the story finishes and the book is returned to the library. Telling a story is, among other things,  a means to confront people with their prejudices and stereotypes, whether it is about homosexuality, disabilities, depression or addictions – or any other topic people tend to be silent about. 

In the case of Friday, we were in a primary school, and I talked in front of pupils of various age groups about being a volunteer, why I had decided to become one and of course why I chose Slovakia ;). One of the most interesting things to see was how the dynamics in every group were different, and how interested children can be into something you were not even sure if it was worth sharing. But being a book was actually harder than I had thought; already after the third group – and the third time repeating almost the exact same story – I sometimes could not distinguish anymore for sure what I had already said or not, and I had the strong feeling of being extremely repetitive.

The question may arise now what this has actually to do with human rights education – and to be fair, my topic did not really fit into that category. However, I was just a “substitute” book, and a somehow relaxing, easy readable short-story among the other books. The most interesting and admirable parts of the whole library, and the actual reason for the activity, were the other books I could meet there. Some of them even came from far away to share their live stories with the school children. They sat in front of them, telling them what it means to live with a handicap, what it means to be in a wheelchair, what it means to be not accepted by society, and openly and willingly answered their questions. Seeing and hearing them, I finally understood the power behind the Living Library, and I am very glad I had the chance to be part of this activity and to meet the other books. Their courage and openness was more than impressive, and getting to know this concept something very valuable.

LL Understanding logo

Miriam

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Minulý piatok som sa šťastnou náhodou stala knihou v živej knižnici. O čo vlastne ide? Sama som nemala ani potuchy, kým som si to nevyskúšala na vlastnej koži. Deň predtým mi náš koordinátor oznámil, že organizátorom Živej knižnice chýba jedna kniha. Opýtal sa ma, či by som nechcela byť náhradníčkou. Keďže som predtým iba letmo počula o tomto projekte, ktorý slúži ako silný nástroj výchovy k ľudským právam, bola to dobrá príležitosť, ako sa dozvedieť viac. Podstata Živej knižnice spočíva v tom, že knihami sú ľudia, ktorí poslucháčom rozprávajú svoje príbehy. Keď sa príbeh skončí, kniha sa vráti do knižnice. Takéto príbehy slúžia okrem iného aj ako prostriedok na konfrontovanie ľudí s predsudkami a stereotypmi, či už ohľadom homosexuality, postihnutia, depresie, závislosti alebo akejkoľvek inej témy, o ktorej sa zvyčajne nehovorí.

V ten piatok sme boli na jednej základnej škole, kde som pred žiakmi rôznych vekových skupín rozprávala o dobrovoľníctve, prečo som sa preň rozhodla a, samozrejme, prečo som si vybrala práve Slovensko ;). V každej skupine vládla iná dynamika a zaujímavé tiež bolo sledovať, ako pozornosť detí upútalo niečo, o čom by ste si pomysleli, že sa ani neoplatí začať rozprávať. Byť knihou však bolo ťažšie, ako som si myslela. Už po tretej skupine – teda po tom, čo som tretíkrát vyrozprávala ten istý príbeh – som si nebola celkom istá, čo som už povedala a čo nie. Zdalo sa mi, že sa príliš opakujem.

Možno sa pýtate, čo to má vlastne spoločné s výchovou k ľudským právam – úprimne, moja téma úplne nezapadá do tejto kategórie. Bola som však knihou-náhradníčkou, akýmsi oddychovým, ľahko čitateľným príbehom medzi ostatnými knihami. Najzaujímavejšou časťou celého stretnutia a tiež dôvodom pre túto aktivitu však boli ostatné knihy, s ktorými som sa mohla stretnúť. Niektoré prišli skutočne zďaleka len preto, aby sa so žiakmi podelili o svoje životné príbehy. Sedeli pred nimi a rozprávali o tom, aké je žiť s postihnutím, aké je byť na vozíku, aké je byť odmietnutý spoločnosťou. Ochotne a otvorene odpovedali na otázky. Keď som sa na týchto ľudí pozerala a počúvala ich, konečne som pochopila, aká sila sa skrýva za živou knižnicou. Som veľmi rada, že som mohla byť súčasťou tejto aktivity a stretnúť iné knihy. Ich odvaha a otvorenosť boli viac než pôsobivé a spoznanie tohto projektu niečo veľmi hodnotné.

Miriam

Preklad: Jana Jašková, Stanislava Dengová 

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One thought on “Living Libraries // Živé knižnice

  1. Living libraries are really an excellent “shortcut to experience”. But they also are a good tool for human rights education. What I especially like about them is that something that people usually perceive as a burden becomes a valuable asset. Of course, the bearer of this burden/asset has to have this matter appropriately “digested”. Living library cannot replace therapy, although in reality it many times is a “therapy through facing reality” for the readers.

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