Find in the following guidelines several proposals to ensure the wellbeing of all the actors involved in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the event.

These are some suggestions to take into account in order to prevent discomfort and emotional distress of the actors involved in the process.

BEFORE

  • Identify shared security codes: Human Books and Facilitators should agree on signs or words in order to communicate that the Human Book doesn’t feel at ease and needs help. Codes should not be known by Readers – this is the inner system for Human Books and Stuff safety.
  • Establish among the team members at least 1 (or more) designated Safety contact persons. This person is in charge of taking care of all different aspects of safety, including medical emergencies, accidents, etc.
  • Providing adequate privacy conditions for instance, safe data sharing, really necessary, especially for Human Books with non regular migrant and refugees
  • Ensure good preparation of all roles and what they can expect from the event (consult the other guidelines on the roles of each involved actor)
  • Sharing the clear timetable of the meetings. Specify how many meetings are planned, where and when. Make sure everybody gets the information of the meetings.
  • Organize engaging preparatory meetings so that people feel involved and motivated to accomplish their tasks during the event.
  • Provide Human Books and Facilitators with concrete suggestions and recommendations (consult the other guidelines on the roles of each involved actor)
  • Plan group preparation meetings, so that the inclusion process starts along the Living Library preparatory process. Let people know that they might be provided with individual meetings if needed – e.g. to share more delicate info people are not comfortable to share in the group.
  • Motivate the books to rehearse their speech, so that the prospective Human Books can identify if they’re ready to act as such. Ideally the Human Books rehearse in a similar way they will share stories with readers –share the story face to face. If the Human Book feels comfortable to share their story to more people at once, {2-3 Readers recommended – the way to share their story depends on the preferences} rehearse that way as well.
  • It’s important to check if the Human Book can handle telling a story. Some of the stories can be traumatic – by listening to them organisers decide if the Human Book is ready to tell a story without harm to themselves. As an organizer, if you decide a Human Book is not ready for public speaking, offer a different role to fulfill in the project like Librarian or Facilitator.
  • Ensure fluent communication with all participants throughout all phases of the project. Make sure you have all their contact details up to date – crucial for all parts before, during and after the event.
  • Provide emotional support if needed. It might be useful to seek the collaboration of psychological support aid experts. Create kind of “emotional support first aid” – in case of emergency during a project.
  • Depending on the country’s political situation, organisers should provide security for all participants of the Living Library event.
  • Create a list of rules for Readers which have an informative role and will be visible during the event of the Living Library. Readers are introduced to them before entering the Library space to know what to avoid during a reading. List of rules will help avoid not pleasant situations. It’s important for all team members to be aware so they can refer to them if necessary.
  • Take the time for a briefing with the Human Books, Facilitators and Organizers, just before starting the event (some minutes before). It might be useful to refresh the most important points.

DURING

  • There should be a briefing session before starting the LL, in order to remind of all elements (functioning of the event, the different roles, the rules, the break times, location of toilets, contact persons…).
  • The rules and instructions should be clearly displayed, so all participants of the activity can refer to them at any time, e.g. place a list of rules near the Welcome Desk.
  • When possible the number of team members acting as Facilitators allows, it is advisable to have a small number (2, for instance) acting as supervisors of the event as a whole in the space designated for the Reading sessions.
  • To ensure commitment to the format of this activity, it is important for Librarians to give a warm welcome to prospective Readers.
  • When the audience includes children or minors, the stories should be adapted.
  • It is advisable to have a corner for introspection, so Human Books can take some time during their breaks for emotional self-care or to discuss how they have felt during the event.
  • Provide a similar place for Readers – you can put sheets of paper, materials for drawing ect. so participants can reflect after readings. It can be a place to put a Guest’s Book where Readers can share their thoughts after reading sessions – might be helpful in the evaluation process.
  • In open events organizers can provide extra children and animal friendly places. Place should be safe, cosy and attractive for children(drawing materials, some safe games and toys) – in this place parents can leave their children for a moment if they want to hear the story alone.

AFTER

  • At the end of the event, plan a moment for sharing reflections about the experience. Facilitate a group debriefing. Taking care of individual needs or perceptions are equally important.
  • It is advisable to conduct follow-up sessions focusing on the individual experience and emotions. Sessions can be done right after the event and it is advisable to make them some time after the event – 1-2 weeks. It will help to share experience, get advice and recommendations to improve next events.
  • It is important to celebrate! Organize a group celebration meeting that can gather human books, facilitators and organizers. You might share food, dances, songs… be creative!

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