Librarians have been working hard to keep ahead in the Internet age, but it was only yesterday I learned that some will now help you borrow a person as well as a book or other information container. It turns out this is a smart way of re-introducing those ancient forms of knowledge transfer: conversation and storytelling.
My chum Kevin Harris passed on news of the Living Library seminar, on October 24. It's being held at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, so it is serious stuff. The flyer says:
‘Living Library’ gives direct access to someone else’s experience, by allowing people to ‘borrow’ someone who is an expert in their field, has significant experience to share, or is passionate about a hobby.
‘Loans’ take the form of a conversation, and can last for half an hour, a morning or an afternoon. The Living Library has been developed in a number of countries and this seminar has been organised to share experiences from Australia and Belgium, which clearly illustrate the contribution that library, museum and archive services can make to community cohesion
Among the questions to be explored are:
- What ways can be found to link the topic ‘borrowed’ with existing, more permanent, resources?
- Should Living Library be mainstreamed?
- Is the MLA (Museum, Libraries Archives Council) sector the appropriate place for such initiatives?
Ah, not on offer in your local library yet, then. A little Googling leads me to a report in the Australian Daily Telegraph about a Living Library pilot in Lismore, which illuminates the reference to community cohesion:
Another living book is Aboriginal artist Albert "Digby" Moran who took part because he wanted to break down the barriers between "white and black". As he is a storyteller through his art, the 59-year-old finds it easy to tell people about his life including what it was like to grow up as an Aboriginal in a white school.
"Everyone has a story to tell, people just need to take more time to listen," Mr Moran said.
One of my favourite blogs is by the Australian consultancy Anecdote, who apply storytelling techniques to knowledge management and much else. They also favour mud maps, as I reported here. My friend Larry Stillman is over here from Melbourne in December, so I hope to learn more of innovations down under. Apparently colleagues have been adapting some of our games for information and knowledge management.
Meanwhile I commend Kevin's closer-to-home blog on neighbourhoods and community, where he manages his own blend of policy analysis and chat. I particularly like the frog sheltering from climate change.