Real people bring reading to life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2012, 12:00am


Visitors to some public and university libraries on the mainland may well find themselves in a 'living library', offering 'living books' (real people) to readers.

The idea of a living - or human - library, started in Denmark in 2000 and promotes dialogue, reduces prejudice and encourages understanding as visitors talk with the 'people on loan'.

By 2010, 256 living library activities were being held in 39 countries around the world.

An Yang, superintendent of Guangzhou's Huangdao library, says living books include people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

'Our group of volunteer 'books' included a man who suffered from allergies since childhood, a young woman who'd had an abortion and a university adviser that uses a special method to educate her daughter,' he said.

The superintendent has also acted as a living book. An Yang shared his experiences of tutoring in rural areas with a group of 10 readers.

To break the ice, he had everyone introduce themselves first, then, as he talked, he took time to get their feedback.

'It is just like reflection after reading a chapter of the book,' he said. 'Plus the activity enhances communication among different people.'

Wang Jing, who is studying interpreting and translation at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, finds this style of reading interesting. She joined a living library activity on her campus, which featured a professor in her academic field.

'Before, I read paper books for knowledge, but when I did not agree with the author's opinions, I could not argue. Now I can have a face-to-face discussion with the living book, and the interaction helps me learn more about the subject I am studying,' she said.