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Living Library comes to Coffs Harbour


Zuleika Henderson
25 July 2008
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to grow up in China, to have a hearing impairment, or to be a yogi?

Some answers might be found at the ‘Living Library’ on Thursday, 31 July at the Coffs Harbour campus, where the ‘books’ available for borrowing are human beings.

The Living Library is part of next week’s Multicultural Festival and has been put together by Southern Cross University’s Office of Regional Engagement with assistance from the Coffs Harbour campus library.

Southern Cross University engagement officer Sue Pratten said that the Living Library aimed to increase people’s understanding of each other.

“Readers can come in and borrow a book for a half-hour conversation. After reading the book they return it to the library and if they want to borrow another book they can,” said Sue.

“It gives people the chance to sit down and talk to people with diverse or interesting stories that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.”

The 15 ‘living books’ are all staff or students from the three education partners of the Coffs Harbour campus – Southern Cross University, North Coast TAFE and the Coffs Harbour Senior College.

The catalogue of books includes titles such as ‘Growing up with Confucius’ ‘Person with a Hearing Impairment’ ‘Death of a Daughter and Cancer Survivor’ ‘Yogi and TAFE Teacher’ ‘The Man from Iran’ ‘Buddhist’ ‘Fat Person’ and ‘First Generation Migrant Woman.’

The world wide phenomenon of the Living Library originated from a Danish anti-racism project that aimed to give people the chance to sit down and talk to people from different walks of life in a safe environment.

NSW has championed the Living Library concept in Australia, with the first Australian version being successfully launched in Lismore in 2006.

Ms Pratten said there had been no shortage of book material.

“The catalogue of books includes representation from staff and students from all three of our campus sectors who have overcome significant obstacles or challenged stereotypes,” she said.

“By hearing their stories we can better understand who we live with and reflect on who we are as a community – which is what a festival to celebrate multiculturalism is all about.”

The Living Library is open to the public at the Sacred Garden at the Coffs Harbour campus on Thursday, July 31 from 10am-3pm. To make a booking contact the Coffs campus library on 6659 3636 or [email protected] or just drop in on the day.