Living Library 4.1.09

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.

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.

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.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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