Oh dear, what have I left myself in for? I am sitting between two poets, in front of us there’s a war veteran and a man from Alcoholics Anonymous. All around me there are people with amazing stories to tell: people from Africa, China, Poland, Dubai as well as Edinburgh. We are here because we have volunteered to be Living Books – but I am wondering, with these bestsellers on offer, who on earth will want to borrow a blogger? I will soon find out as the Living Library (Scotland’s first) starts in an hour.
How did I let myself in for this? The answer I guess is that I can never walk away from a fascinating experience (aka ‘can’t say no’). The Living Library has just arrived in Scotland and it sounds an amazing way of breaking down barriers. The idea began in Denmark in 2000 as a way of overcoming prejudice and since then it has spread through Europe and now reaches Edinburgh via Bradford.
Basically, it seems, a Living Book is a person who is prepared to talk about some aspect of their life to anyone who wants to borrow them for 30 minutes face to face conversation in the safe setting of a library. Today’s selection includes a goth, a policeman and us lot from the briefing session.
I got involved because I blogged about the project on Leith Open Space website after being asked to help find some ‘books’ from minority communities. Then, somehow I find myself agreeing to take part and yesterday all the volunteers met at McDonald Road library to discover what we have let ourselves in for.
Linda, a librarian who has flown up from the south to guide Scotland’s first living books into the public arena, assures us that it is fun. And she has the T shirts to prove it.
Now I am raiding my blog in the hope of finding some interesting examples in case anyone does take my ‘book’ off the shelf. (I feel a complete fraud because there are so many other bloggers I know who would be much better qualified.) But here am I looking for those comments from Canada after I posted a story about the elk crossing the Trans-Canada highway on their own bridge at Banff, and Bill the pilot who was pleased I enjoyed his flight to Barra, and of course those amazing comments that have just arrived on the Hendrix story.
Now I have to go and get dressed. What can I wear that will go with the T shirt?