Living Library proves popular in Morenci 2009.04.01

Written by David Green.

Awesome. Amazing. Fascinating. Eye-opening.

Morenci’s first venture into the Living Library concept drew rave reviews Saturday, both from those who served as living books and from those who came to Stair Public Library to check them out.living.library.in_the_stacks.jpg

Library director Colleen Leddy is among those delighted with the event, but she had doubts leading up to the opening.

“I thought my books would bail,” she said. “I thought it would get to the night before and they would worry about their beliefs being attacked, their sexual orientation being attacked. It was such an unknown how this would go.”

She heard that a couple of her Books were very nervous before the event got underway Saturday, but once it began, they thoroughly enjoyed the interaction.

Twenty-seven individuals represented 26 book titles, ranging from Ex-Religious Cult Member to Punk Teen to Politician. Readers checked out the living books for conversations up to 30 minutes. One Reader made sure she borrowed all 26 books before she returned home to Toledo.

The idea behind the Living Library is to help dispel false impressions that people form—the stereotypes that often get in the way of interaction.

“It’s important learning how people’s lives are different from mine,” one Reader wrote following the event.

“It really opened my eyes,” wrote another.living.library.choosing_book.jpg

Some Readers expressed surprise in seeing people they knew and discovering they were the Agnostic or the Conservative or the Alcoholic. That cleared away a few stereotypes right from the start. Others fell as the conversations began.

“They learned that stereotypes barely fit anyone they surround,” one Book said.

Several Books also spoke highly of the interaction, pointing out how the process helped clarify their own beliefs.

One Book mentioned the joy of being seen as a person rather than a label. Another welcomed the opportunity to articulate what’s important to him.

“I realized that there are more open-minded people in Morenci than I thought,” a Book stated.

One of the library aides helping Saturday admitted that when he sees a Middle Eastern person, he wonders if he might be carrying a bomb.

“I can’t believe I would even do this,” he said afterward.

He looks forward to organizing a similar event at college.

Books and readers alike hope the event makes a repeat performance and many people offered suggestions for new Book titles.

“Please, please do this again,” one participant wrote.

Leddy is interested in bringing it back, but planning was exhaustive and it won’t happen again soon. Art teacher Kym Ries suggested starting a Living Library Bookmobile and taking the show on the road to area festivals and libraries.

It’s a simple concept, but it’s going places.

• The following Books were represented at Morenci’s first Living Library: Agnostic, Alcoholic, Black, Blonde, Conservative, Cop, Environmentalist, Ex-Cult Member, Feminist, Gay Teen, Grease Monkey, Hillbilly, Home-schooler, Jehovah’s Witness, Jock, Lawyer, Liberal, Mentally Ill Person, Muslim, Old Lady, Pagan, Politician, Punk Teen, Teen Mom, Vegetarian and Witch.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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