These guidelines are to support the tasks to be undertaken by the persons in the role of librarians and facilitators on the Living Library Event.

Librarians and Facilitators

Librarians and Facilitators have different roles and tasks in the implementation of a Living Library event. Often, in smaller scale events, there is no difference between these two roles.

Librarians are usually staying in the Welcome Desk and are in charge of the Catalogue and the Booking System.

  • Librarians inform visitors about the library and they can orientate readers about the books stimulating their curiosity.
  • Librarians present the rules of the library.
  • Librarians are responsible for the books’ reservation and managing the reading time slots.
  • Librarians are in charge of the Catalogue of the Living Library and explain the content of the books to the readers to find out what human books could suit them the best.

Facilitators are located inside the living library premises/venue in direct contact with Human Books and readers. They are responsible for taking care of the timing and the wellbeing of the human books.

  • Facilitators guide readers in the library, from the welcome desk to the chosen human book to start the reading.
  • Facilitators take care of the human books’ comfort and safety.
  • Facilitators provide the human books with basic needs such as water, and keep the timing to ensure all human books have a break time between readings.
  • After the reading is finished, the Librarians provide the evaluation form to all thereaders and escort them to the reflection space or the exit.

Tips for Preparation

  • Organize multiple meetings between librarians, facilitators and human books in order to get to know the stories.
  •  Organize a meeting between librarians and organizers in order to:
    •  Get to know each other: librarians can be volunteers of the organization or outsiders. In both cases, they should meet the organizers and betrained by them.
    • The structure of the event and logistics: librarians should be informed about the general rules of the event, the timetable, the underlying objectives
    •  What to do in case of emergencies
    • Share the awareness of their role: librarians should be aware of the difficulties of dealing with people, the possible issues that may arise

Tips for effective Librarians

  • Getting ready: wear your recognisable t-shirt and smile!
  • Welcome to the readers: librarians should introduce them to the concept of the Living Library, as well as to the rules
  • Guiding the readers in the choice of the book:
    • Providing a short description of the story or some key-words, related stereotypes
    • Suggesting stories that fit the interest of the reader, taking into account that the less popular books should be promoted while the most desired ones should be provided with breaks (always keeping in consideration the maximum number of readers allowed per book)
  • Supervising
    • Books:
      • Each facilitator should take care of a maximum number of two-three human books.
      • Agree on safety rules and communication non verbal signals with the human books.
      • Support the personal needs of the human books both physical and emotional ones, for instance, making sure that human books have water/coffee, assuring they are in a good state of mind…
    • Readers:
      • Be ready to intervene if needed (in case of misbehaviour or excessive pushing questions.. )
  • Bringing readers from the welcome desk to the reading tables with the human books
  • Management of
    • Timetable: for instance, informing the book of the upcoming end of the session (‘5 minutes to the end)
    • Bookings: allowed number of readers per book
    • Evaluation forms and feedback: submitting the questionnaires and asking questions about the experience at the living library
  • Sharing debriefing methods
    • Keeping in mind that readers might need to release emotions. Librarians should be ready to suggest some activities to go back to a neutral emotional state. (for instance, chatting with somebody, having a test, drawing, going for a walk,..)

Evaluation

  • Once the event is closed, organisers should evaluate as well with librarians and facilitators the positive aspects and challenges that arose during the event
  • Collect suggestions for the improvement of next Living library event.
  • Sharing the experience of being a librarian with the next librarians: giving hints and suggestions

 

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