Saturday, August 27, 2005


The Living Library

Sighted over at The Depraved Librarian, an AP wire notes a Swedish library is also lending out people with its books:

The city library in Malmo, Sweden's third-largest city, will let curious visitors check out living people for a 45-minute chat in a project meant to tear down prejudices about different religions, nationalities, or professions. The project, called Living Library, was introduced at Denmark's Roskilde Festival in 2000, librarian Catharina Noren said. It has since been tried at a Copenhagen library as well as in Norway, Portugal, and Hungary.

The people available to be "borrowed" also include a journalist, a gypsy, a blind man, and an animal rights activist. They will be available Saturday and Sunday in conjunction with a Malmo city festival and are meant to give people "a new perspective on life," the library said in a statement. "There are prejudices about everything," Noren said. "This is about fighting those prejudices and promoting coexistence."

Borrowing a person will be free, and the library will also provide coffee at its cafe where the "living books" will answer questions about their lives, beliefs, or jobs. "It's supposed to be relaxed and human-to-human," Noren said.

"At its cafe"? Dammit, where's my library cafe?

Curiously, some months back I heard a report on Radio Sweden about the planting of what they called -- and oh, how I love this coinage -- Snack Forests. In recognition of the foraging traditions of some of their immigrants, and out of fear that lookalike poisonous mushrooms and berries might lead them astray, Swedish forestry officials proposed creating a series of forests planted exclusively with safely edible plants and fruit-bearing trees.

Still, I can't quite get out of my head the image of trees magically sprouting bags of Doritos.

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