Inside USD

Check out a ‘Living’ Library Book

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

img_6465Amy Besnoy and John Adkins work for University of San Diego’s Copley Library and the Pardee Legal Research Center, respectively. Their jobs involve helping the campus community find what they’re looking for, whether it’s research materials, a book for a class paper or just for fun reading.

Today, however, is a bit different. Besnoy and Adkins have a new kind of library book they’d like to suggest patrons check out. It takes only 15-30 minutes to complete, but they’re sure that once you start “reading” you’ll come away more informed.

The premise of the Living Library project is that every human being has a story, and every person is a book. Just as some books are action and adventure, and some are drama-filled or touch on a serious subject, so too, are people and their life story.

Besnoy first learned about the Living Library at an Association of College and Reading Libraries conference in Seattle in March. A Canadian university used it as an opportunity for its campus community to learn more about its members.

Besnoy recalled a story example at the conference: A student wanted to check out a book to learn more about dyslexia. “She was amazed to see the president of the university walk toward her. ‘But you’re the president’ the student said. ‘Yes,’ replied the president, ‘but I also have dyslexia.’”

Besnoy then attended a Living Library event at a Santa Monica public library to experience it for herself. She still thinks about the books she “read” about a Mormon and a police officer.

Besnoy and Adkins, a member of President’s Advisory Board for Inclusion and Diversity at USD, brought the Living Library concept to PABID in hopes of showcasing it to the campus community.

“We wanted to do something to bring the libraries into the diversity conversation at USD,” Besnoy said. “It’s a chance to shift the culture on campus.”

The event has the support of the libraries, PABID/On Our Campus, United Front Multicultural Center, USD Athletics and the Center for Awareness, Service and Action. Tuesday’s books at Copley Library included “A Foreigner in My Own Country,” “Law Enforcement” and “Survive Breast Cancer!” Each “book” wore a T-shirt saying, “Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover.”

Today’s final Living Library event takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Pardee Legal Research Center. Those who check out a book can get a T-shirt for participating. A post-event reception for participants will be held at 7 p.m. in the Degheri Alumni Center, room 120.

— Ryan T. Blystone

“I was convinced I was going to die within six months. My tumor was quite large. I had stage 2 breast cancer. And the more I found out, the more I read on Web sites and in books, the more confused I got and it only added to my fears that I really was going to die.”

— Excerpt from the “book,” Survive Breast Cancer!

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