Daily Archives: October 26, 2008

Bainbridge breathes life into the “Living Library”

When Aileen Griffey had finished with her library book, she didn’t close its cover or drop it in the return slot. She shook its hand, wished its family well and thanked it for a glimpse into what it’s like to be a Muslim living in America.

Griffey, “the reader,” and Younes Merbouhi, “the book,” were participants in Bainbridge Public Library’s Living Library event on Saturday. As one of about 50 readers who attended the event, Griffey chose from 17 flesh-and-blood titles representing groups that are often stereotyped, misunderstood or hold controversial viewpoints.

Before selecting Merbouhi and his family, which also joined in the discussion, Griffey perused a selection of living books representing a quadriplegic, a female cop, a Libertarian, a white South African, an atheist, the mother of a lesbian and an Eagle Harbor liveaboard.

Once a librarian matches a reader with book, they sit down for half-hour conversations at tables scattered throughout the library.

“This gives people a more diverse perspective,” said Danish anti-violence activist Ronni Abergel, who founded the Living Library program and was on-hand for the Bainbridge event. “Many people have perceptions about certain people based only on the media, but they’ve never sat down one, never really talked with one. Once they do, it stretches their boundaries.”

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